Greater prevention is urgently needed: the OECD warns of the high cost of malnutrition for humans, the state and the economy.
Over half of the population is now overweight in most Western countries. Nearly one in four people even threatened. So says the latest study by the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation [OECD].
Keep children overweight
In particular, children pay a high price: they tend to be worse off at school and are less likely to receive a higher education than children without obesity. In addition, they are dissatisfied in life. There are several chronic diseases in adulthood that are threatened by obesity: diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure or cancer.
Huge costs, shorter lives
It goes into money. On average, OECD countries now collect about 8.5% of healthcare costs for the treatment of overweight illnesses. In addition, obesity shortens the average lifespan – by nearly three years to 2050, the OECD predicts.
Obesity also has tangible consequences in the labor market. Obese people are more likely to be away from work and less productive. In addition, they are more likely to be out of work later than normal people. All this is slowing economic growth in OECD countries: it is projected to average 3.3 percent annually by 2050.
More prevention and restrictions on advertising
OECD Secretary of State Angel Gurría now calls on Member States to act: it needs more prevention. It would be a good idea, for example, to limit the advertising of unhealthy foods. Or provide food at a "traffic light" store; This makes it easier to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy articles. This already exists in France, in Switzerland they are being discussed.
More prevention funds can ultimately be paid to countries financially. OECD economists say every dollar spent on prevention brings economic benefits of up to six dollars. It could be a daring showdown. But if you do nothing against this disease of wealth, it will cost society dearly. Not just financially.