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How obesity is costing the UK almost £30billion per year

With more than two thirds of of UK adults now considered to be obese, the economy is suffering as a result.

  • Obesity is having an increasingly large impact on the UK’s economy.
  • The NHS alone is drained of over £6 billion per year due to obese individuals.

Obesity has been increasing in the UK over the past few decades. According to the latest statistics from the National Health Service (NHS), around two-thirds (63%) of adults in the UK were classified as overweight or obese in 2020, up from 56% in 1993. The prevalence of obesity specifically has more than tripled in the last 30 years, with 28% of adults in the UK classified as obese in 2020, up from just 8% in 1980.

Childhood obesity is also a growing concern in the UK. According to a report by the NHS, around one-third of children aged 10-11 were classified as overweight or obese in 2020, up from around one-quarter in 2006.

How the economy takes the weight

According to a report by McKinsey & Company, obesity-related healthcare costs and lost productivity in the UK amounted to an estimated £27 billion per year in 2019.

This figure includes direct healthcare costs, such as medical treatments and hospitalisations related to obesity and related health conditions such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers. It also includes indirect costs, such as lost productivity due to absenteeism, presenteeism (when employees are at work but not fully productive), and premature mortality.

The economic impact of obesity can also be felt across a wide range of industries, from healthcare to food and beverage production to retail. For example, the food and beverage industry may face increased regulations and taxes related to unhealthy products, while healthcare providers may need to invest in additional resources to address the growing burden of obesity-related illnesses.

Added pressure to the NHS

According to a report by the UK government, the estimated cost of obesity to the NHS in England in 2019/2020 was £6.1 billion.

This figure includes the costs of treating health conditions related to obesity, such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, as well as the costs of bariatric surgery and other weight management interventions.

The report notes that obesity-related health conditions account for a significant proportion of the overall burden of disease in the UK, and that the costs are likely to continue rising in the future as the population ages and obesity rates remain high.

What is causing this increase in obesity across the UK?

Though obesity is a complex issue with multiple causes such genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, some of the key factors that have contributed to the rise in obesity in the UK include changes in diet and physical activity patterns, changes in the built environment (such as increased car use and sedentary occupations), and wider societal factors such as marketing of unhealthy foods and the availability of cheap, high-calorie foods.

Addressing obesity is a complex challenge that requires a multifaceted approach, including changes to food and beverage policies, improvements to the built environment to encourage physical activity, and support for individuals and communities to make healthier choices. is an independent platform and information service that aims to provide you with the tools you need to make smarter financial decisions. While we are independent, the offers that appear on this site are provided by companies from which receives compensation, though we never advertise or promote services or companies that we do not ethically support.

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