The World Obesity Federation has published its World Obesity Atlas 2023, which predicts that the global economic impact of overweight and obese people will reach $4.32 trillion (€4.04 trillion) annually by 2035, if prevention and treatment measures do not improve.
At almost 3% of global GDP, this is comparable with the impact of COVID-19 in 2020.
The report predicts that the majority of the global population (51%, or over four billion people) will be either overweight or obese by 2035, if current trends prevail. It estimates that one in four people (nearly two billion) will suffer from obesity.
Furthermore, childhood obesity could more than double by 2035 (from 2020 levels), with the condition rising more rapidly among children than adults. Rates are predicted to double among boys to 208 million (100% increase) and more than double among girls to 175 million (125% increase).
The World Obesity Federation has emphasised the importance of developing comprehensive national action plans to prevent and treat obesity and support people affected by the disease.
The Federation acknowledged the impact of climate change, COVID-19 restrictions, new pandemics, and chemical pollutants on obesity and warns that without 'ambitious and coordinated action' to address systemic issues, obesity rates could rise still further.
"This year's Atlas is a clear warning that by failing to address obesity today, we risk serious repercussions in the future," said professor Louise Baur, president of the World Obesity Federation.
"It is particularly worrying to see obesity rates rising fastest among children and adolescents. Governments and policymakers around the world need to do all they can to avoid passing health, social, and economic costs on to the younger generation," Baur added.
"That means looking urgently at the systems and root factors that contribute to obesity, and actively involving young people in the solutions. If we act together now, we have the opportunity to help billions of people in the future.”