The 14th European Congress on Obesity has presented research that the medical consequences of obesity have now become a global problem in terms of increased healthcare costs. In fact, those costs now exceed expenditures for illnesses related to smoking, drinking, and aging. In the United States alone the figure for 2003 was placed at $96.7 billion. In other countries, the costs are equally substantial (2% of national health expenditure in France and Australia, 4% in the Netherlands, and over 3% in Japan). Obesity is also associated with increased rates of disability and loss of productivity as well as more hospital stays and greater prescription drug expenditures.
Obesity increases the risk of developing serious health problems like diabetes, osteoarthritis, and heart disease. Healthcare costs also increase as obese people age. Unfortunately, obesity is increasing at an alarming rate in the United State, Japan, and most European countries. It is estimated that obesity affects 300 million people worldwide.