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Graphic: Obesity Costs the World More Than Alcoholism


A new study into the global economic impact of different social problems makes fascinating reading.

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The global economic cost of obesity is an estimated $2.1 trillion dollars a year—almost as much as the worldwide cost of smoking, or armed violence. Alcoholism costs the planet $1.4 trillion dollars a year, according to a new report by the McKensey Global Institute.

More than 2.1 billion people, or 30% of the world’s population, are considered overweight—and five percent of global deaths are caused by obesity. Around four percent of global deaths can be attributed to alcohol.

On a national level, the US has the world’s biggest obesity problem (see chart below). More than 70% of the US population is considered overweight, according to the study.

But in economic terms, does obesity cost the US—like the rest of the world—more than alcohol? Apparently not. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, harmful drinking costs the US economy an estimated $223 billion a year. The direct cost of obesity, on the other hand, is estimated at between $147 billion and $190 billion a year.