At the forefront of growth and development in Asia and the Pacific

Obesity in Asia and the Pacific: Facts, Consequences, and Policies for Better Health

Video | 16 February 2017

The Asian Development Bank Institute estimates that obesity can cost economies as much as 5% of GDP. It recommends changes on two fronts. Matthias Helble, research economist at ADBI, proposes that to reduce this expenditure it is necessary to firstly, make school food healthier and label foods to show what’s in them and secondly, make exercise easier, safer, and more attractive.

Transcript

Obesity in Asia and the Pacific: Facts, Consequences, and Policies for Better Health

Description: The Asian Development Bank Institute estimates that obesity can cost economies as much as 5% of GDP. It recommends changes on two fronts. Matthias Helble, research economist at ADBI, proposes that to reduce this expenditure it is necessary to firstly, make school food healthier and label foods to show what’s in them and secondly, make exercise easier, safer, and more attractive.

Recently, Asia and the Pacific have recorded not only high rates of economic growth but also overweight and obesity. The World Health Organization says 40% of people in Asian Development Bank developing member countries are overweight.

In Central Asia, more than half the population in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan is overweight. The situation is most dramatic in the Pacific. In Tonga, Samoa, Kiribati, and Marshall Islands—more than 80%.

The overweight and obese are at risk for diabetes (especially type 2), cardiovascular diseases, and certain types of cancer. Over 120 million people in China have diabetes.

Chronic diseases often require lifelong treatment and burden households and governments. The obese miss work more often than the healthy, so obesity has a direct impact on the economy.

The Asian Development Bank Institute is looking into the economic and healthcare costs of obesity. We estimate that obesity can cost economies as much as 5% of GDP.

We recommend policies on two fronts. First, make school food healthier, for example, and label foods to show what’s in them. Second, make exercise easier, safer, and more attractive.

Obesity has many causes. Our response needs to be holistic. Let’s work together for a slimmer and fitter Asia!