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Our expanding waistlines are costing the global economy almost as much to deal with as smoking and military conflict, according to a new report by the McKinsey Global Institute. The annual global bill for obesity for lost productivity and treating treating conditions like diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers is $2 trillion. That's nearly as much as the $2.1 trillion smoking or war and conflict costs the global economy, a group of analysts at the research institute concluded.
Around 3.4 million adults die every year because they are overweight or obese, according to World Health Organization (WHO)statistics. The long-term causes are well-known. Compared to a century ago, food is cheaper and more widely available in most countries – and lots of high-calorie foods are cheaper still. Technology means we are less likely to be walking a long way to work or school, and more likely to be sitting at a desk than tilling the soil. The prevalence of childhood obesity is particularly concerning for future growth of the epidemic. In some low and middle income countries, "it is not uncommon to find under-nutrition and obesity existing side-by-side within the same country, the same community and the same household," as high-fat, low-nutrient foods form an increasing part of the diet, according to WHO.