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Despite progress in recent years, obesity remains a major public health issue. It is a substantial risk factor for deaths related to noncommunicable diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and a range of cancers. It also subjects people to bias and discrimination that exacerbate poor health. The problem is increasing. Yet the global economy could save as much as $2.2trn over the next 40 years (mainly by avoiding medical costs) if obesity were to remain at the level of 2019 and not get worse. Yet the causes of obesity are complex and difficult to tackle. Lifestyle changes are only part of the answer. A broader approach across public health, medical care, and public policy is needed. How can leaders push for improved research, prevention, treatment, and management? What kind of investment is required?

The webinar programmed by Economist Impact and sponsored by Obesity Policy Engagement Network* (OPEN), witnessed first-hand insights and guidance on how to respond to obesity.

Themes discussed:

  • What priority areas could curb the global rise in obesity?
  • What are the social and economic consequences of obesity? How can these be tackled?
  • How can the public and private sectors collaborate?
  • How can policy and action at scale be aligned with a focus on individuals’ health and well-being?
  • What innovative tools and data could be developed? What hinders progress?

Speakers included:

  • Dr Francesco Branca, Director, Department of Nutrition for Health and Development, World Health Organization (WHO)
  • Johanna Ralston, Chief Executive, World Obesity Federation (WOF)
  • Dr. Fatima Cody Stanford, Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School; obesity medicine physician-scientist, Massachusetts General Hospital
  • Dr. Naser Eddin Gharaibeh, Endocrinologist, Chair – department of medical specialties, Mercy Hospital Joplin
  • Moderated by Elly Vaughan, Global health manager, health policy and insights, Economist Impact

Online, 09/03/2023