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Therapeutic strategy for an obese patient
Evidence in bariatric surgery (part 1)
Evidence in bariatric surgery (part 2)
Major options in the treatment of obesity
Frequency, cost and social consequences of obesity
The connexion between overweight and mortality
The benefits of surgery in morbidly obese patients
Causes and mechanisms of obesity
Regulation of the appetite
Causes and mechanisms of obesity
Measuring obesity
Home > Generalities > Frequency, cost and social consequences of obesity

Frequency, cost and social consequences of obesity

[Frequency, cost and social consequences of obesity]

Frequency, cost and social consequences of obesity

>> In Europe : Obesity is unfortunately on the rise.
For example in France, its prevalence is of about 7%. According to the last available survey carried out by the SOFRES in 1997, 8.7% of men and 7.9% of women over 15 years of age are obese, which represents an body mass index of over 30 kg per square metre. These figures are even more worrying if one simply talks about being overweight (starting at 25 kg per square metre), in which case 36.7% of the population is affected.

>> In the United States and the rest of the world: here as well the situation tends to be worsening, as it is also in certain countries of the developing world. In the United States, over 50% of the population is currently considered overweight (over 25 kg/m2).

Below is an estimate of the prevalence of obesity in Europe and the United States in 1993, where obesity is definded as a body mass index above 30% (medical definition of obesity according to the WHO), for a population aged between 40 and 60 years.

Geographical distribution.

Men Women
-> North Europe 10% 15%
-> Western Europe 13% 16%
-> Southern Europe 16% 30%
-> Russia 14% 44%
-> United States (caucasian population) 15% 18%
-> United States (afro-caribbean population) 20% 37%

>> The cost of obesity. Costs can be split into two categories.


Direct costs, which are those incurred within the health system, and which are attributed to various specialties in the absence of the recognised pathology. In other words, they are all the medical costs linked to obesity.

Indirect costs are the days off work and lost income.

The direct costs were estimated to correspond to 5.5% of the total expenditure made on health in the United States, or 4% in the Netherlands, which corresponds to several billion(US) or thousand million(UK) US dollars or Euros.

A correlation also exists between BMI (body mass index) and co-morbidities (that is, all the illnesses related to obesity). A Finnish study even demonstrated that for each section of the population there existed a significant correlation between BMI and the overall additional medical costs incurred every year which included consultations with general practitioners or specialists and hospital admissions.

These findings are quite alarming for the health care system. They call for political and administrative decisions to be taken in order to incourage prevention. A lot remains to be done in this area.

>> Social concequences of obesity
Obesity is both a social and cultural a handicap in every day life. In effect, obese people often find themselves to be the victims of discrimination both and at school, on the sports ground and within the professional setting. Whithin certain professions (secretarial and public relation positions, etc) it is often very hard for the obese person to compete for the job despite offering equal qualifications. Obese people frequently have psychological problems which also contribute to this social rejection. The same applies to the pathological phenomenons and medical complications, which eventually lead to isolation.


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