Health policies and data


Obesity and the Economics of Prevention

Fit not Fat

Before 1980, rates were generally well below 10%. They have since doubled or tripled in many countries, and in almost half of the OECD, 50% or more of the population is overweight.  A key risk factor for numerous chronic diseases, obesity is a major public health concern.    This book contributes to evidence-based policy making by exploring multiple dimensions of the obesity problem. It examines the scale and characteristics of the epidemic, the respective roles and influence of market forces and governments, and the impact of interventions. It outlines an economic approach to the prevention of chronic diseases that provides novel insights relative to a more traditional public health approach.  The analysis was undertaken by the OECD, partly in collaboration with the World Health Organization. The main chapters are complemented by special contributions from health and obesity experts, including Marc Suhrcke, Tim Lobstein, Donald Kenkel and Francesco Branca.  “a valuable set of results and suggestions about the best preventive interventions to reduce the burden of obesity.”   – Julio Frenk, Dean, Harvard School of Public Health   “The positive message of this book is that the obesity epidemic can be successfully addressed.”   – Ala Alwan, Assistant Director-General, World Health Organization   “innovative and well-researched”  – Martin McKee, Professor, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine "A timely, valuable volume on a critical issue.  Highly recommended."-Choice, July 2011        

Published on September 23, 2010Also available in: French


Executive Summary
Introduction: Obesity and the Economics of Prevention
Promoting Health and Fighting Chronic Diseases: What Impact on the Economy?
Obesity: Past and Projected Future Trends
The Social Dimensions of Obesity
The Size and Risks of the International Epidemic of Child Obesity
How Does Obesity Spread?
Are Health Behaviors Driven by Information?
Tackling Obesity: The Roles of Governments and Markets
Community Interventions for the Prevention of Obesity
The Impact of Interventions
Perspectives on the Regulation of Food Advertising to Children
Information, Incentives and Choice: A Viable Approach to Preventing Obesity
The Case for Self-Regulation in Food Advertising
Annex A. Supplementary Figures and Tables
Annex B. Author's and Contributors' Biographies
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