Between 2020 and 2050 obesity is forecast to reduce life expectancy by 2.7 years across the OECD, according to a recently published OECD report.
In Switzerland obesity is forecast to shave almost 2 years (1.93) off life expectancy between 2020 and 2050, according to OECD calculations. Its expected impact on Swiss healthy life expectancy (HALE) is -2.4 years.
In addition to shorter lives, large waistlines are burning an ever bigger hole in household budgets via taxes and health insurance premiums. The OECD predicts obesity will consume 8.4% of global health spending over the next 30 years. In Switzerland, obesity is forecast to cost close to CHF 2 billion a year between 2020 and 2050.
In addition to loss of life and additional healthcare costs, obesity is predicted to shave 2.4% off Swiss GDP.
The key drivers of the obesity epidemic are well known: excessive calorie consumption and insufficient exercise.
However, the solution is less straight forward. To tackle the problem the OECD suggests changes to food labelling, food advertising restrictions, taxes on unhealthy foods and the promotion of exercise by doctors and schools. It calculates these measure would deliver a six-times return on investment.
The report singles out calorie dense foods as a key culprit in rising obesity. The wide range of food calorie density makes quantity a terrible guide for how much to eat. For example, a small cube of hard cheese has the same calories as a head of broccoli. How something is cooked is critical too. French fries have around four times (3.8) the calories as the same weight of boiled potato.
Then there is what we drink. A glass of soda or fruit juice typically contains more than 100 kcal. A glass of water contains none.
The Heavy Burden of Obesity – OECD report (in English)