In the United States, we have a malnutrition crisis, but it’s not caused by people not having enough to eat. Just as assuredly people died of famine in the past, they now die of excess eating. It’s just not as compelling to put an 85-pound four-year-old in an advertisement for Save the Children.
This malnutrition from excess is a leading cause of poor health and spiraling health care spending and causes nearly 1,000 deaths each day in the United States from heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. The conservative estimates of direct and indirect costs of chronic diseases as a result of obesity were $1.72 trillion in 2016 — almost 10 percent of the nation’s GDP. Just as a comparison, total healthcare expenses were approximately $3.5 trillion or 17.6% of GDP; diseases of obesity are over half of the healthcare expenses.
Additionally, obesity is the greatest contributor to the burden of chronic diseases in the US, accounting for 47.1 percent of the total cost of chronic diseases nationwide.
JAMA. 2017;317(9):912-924. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.0947