The annual social cost of obesity in the UK

The annual social cost of obesity in the UK

A new independent study led by Frontier Economics, and commissioned by Novo Nordisk, has been launched today. It provides an independent and objective estimation of the full annual social cost of obesity in the UK.

Our findings show that the current social annual cost of obesity in the UK at around £58 billion, equivalent to around 3% of the 2020 UK GDP. This includes direct costs such as the cost of obesity-related diseases on the health system (including COVID-19 and mental health issues) and the loss of quality adjusted life years for individuals. In addition it includes the wider costs to society such as loss of productivity and cost of social care.

Matthew Bell, Head of Public Policy at Frontier Economics said: “Our study shows that the costs attributable to obesity go far beyond the NHS costs to treat conditions related to it, especially in terms of the reduced quality of life and reduced work productivity for people living with obesity. The analysis also captures factors that have not been taken into account in previous studies, such as the potential cost of obesity-related risks of COVID-19. The £58 billion headline cost masks the variations across the country in terms of the prevalence and social costs of obesity, which are often relatively higher in areas with lower economic prosperity. This suggests a strong case to implement well-targeted interventions which meet the diverse needs of people with obesity to support sustained weight-loss and weight management, while also focusing on prevention.”

Other key findings include:

  • The estimated annual NHS spend on obesity related diseases is £6.5 billion.
  • The estimated cost of obesity-related risks of Covid-19 is £4 billion. Although the relative risks evolve with the roll-out of vaccines and treatments, this scale would be equivalentto almost 50% more the amount the UK spent for securing 267 million doses of vaccines[here].
  • Costs tied to loss of productivity and increased social care are estimated to be up to £7.5 billion.
  • A 10% reduction in obesity prevalence could lead to significant cost savings, not only to the NHS but also in terms of improved quality of life and workplace productivity. This social gain could be equivalent to almost £6 billion per year.

Read the full report here:


The Full Cost of Obesity in the UK