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

Wang YC, McPherson K, Marsh T, Gortmaker SL, Brown M. Health and economic burden of the projected obesity trends in the USA and the UK. Lancet. 2011 Aug 27;378(9793):815-25. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60814-3.

Erratum in:
  • Lancet. 2011 Nov 19;378(9805):1778


Rising prevalence of obesity is a worldwide health concern because excess weight gain within populations forecasts an increased burden from several diseases, most notably cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and cancers. In this report, we used a simulation model to project the probable health and economic consequences in the next two decades from a continued rise in obesity in two ageing populations–the USA and the UK. These trends project 65 million more obese adults in the USA and 11 million more obese adults in the UK by 2030, consequently accruing an additional 6-8·5 million cases of diabetes, 5·7-7·3 million cases of heart disease and stroke, 492,000-669,000 additional cases of cancer, and 26-55 million quality-adjusted life years forgone for USA and UK combined. The combined medical costs associated with treatment of these preventable diseases are estimated to increase by $48-66 billion/year in the USA and by £1·9-2 billion/year in the UK by 2030. Hence, effective policies to promote healthier weight also have economic benefits.