Smoking, War, and Obesity Have the Biggest Global Economic Impact

War, smoking, and obesity are straining the world's economy, but there's concern among researchers that obesity is most on the rise. If there's not an action plan put in place, societies may be feeling the strain on more than just health-care costs.

War, smoking, and obesity are the biggest burdens the world is facing. Ana Swanson of Forbes writes about how these three destructive forces effect not only our personal well-being, but they're costing the global economy trillions, according to a new report from McKinsey.

The most frightening revelation from this report is that obesity is on the rise around the globe. Right now its economic impact stands at $2.0 trillion—slightly under the $2.1 trillion that war, violence, and terrorism, and smoking each have on the GDP. Over 30 percent (that's above 2.1 billion people) around the world are overweight or obese, according to the report, and 5 percent of global deaths can be attributed to the disease.

Researchers say that obesity is a stress on health-care costs—it's responsible for 2 to 7 percent of all health-care spending, which doesn't include the 20 percent attributed to treating obesity-related issues. It even puts a stress on the productivity of a society that comes from decreased life expectancy from these individuals. But the study realizes that coming up with a solution to reduce the strain on society will have to come from more than the efforts of the individual or a few organizations.

The paper has an “intervention portfolio” that identifies 18 areas where companies, organizations, and people can take responsibility to help have an impact and reverse the rising demographic. They fall under three categories: education, environment, and personal responsibility. If we aren't able to slow the trend or find a solution, the number of obese adults around the world could reach 41 percent by 2030—a frightening prospect for our world's health and the costs that come from it.

Read more at Forbes

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

​There are two kinds of failure – but only one is honorable

Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.

Big Think Edge
  • Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
  • At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
  • Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Keep reading Show less

Is this why time speeds up as we age?

We take fewer mental pictures per second.

(MPH Photos/giphy/yShutterstock/Big Think)
Mind & Brain
  • Recent memories run in our brains like sped-up old movies.
  • In childhood, we capture images in our memory much more quickly.
  • The complexities of grownup neural pathways are no match for the direct routes of young brains.
Keep reading Show less

Trauma in childhood leads to empathy in adulthood

It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."

Mind & Brain

  • A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
  • The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
  • The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
Keep reading Show less

Why are so many objects in space shaped like discs?

It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?

  • Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
  • Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
  • Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.