Health and Economic Burden of the Projected Obesity Trends in the USA and the UK

Using nationally representative surveys to trend adult obesity prevalence in the United States and the United Kingdom over the next 20 years, these researchers predict that if obesity continues to rise at its current rate there will be 65 million more obese people in the United States and 11 million more in the United Kingdom by 2030.

The effects of obesity on population health are far-reaching—premature mortality and morbidity from cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and cancers. For the United States alone, this would add 8 million more cases of diabetes, 6.8 million of coronary heart disease and stroke, and .5 million of cancer by 2030.

In addition to negatively affecting quality of life and reducing productivity, obesity increases health care costs. The costs attributable to obesity include excess use of ambulatory care, hospitalizations, drugs, radiologic and laboratory tests, and long-term care. Current estimates put the annual cost of obesity at some $75 billion in medical costs in the United States and €33 billion in the European Union.

“We hope that our dire predictions will serve to mobilise efforts to reduce obesity so that our predictions do not become reality,” the authors write.