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

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