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Obesity Costs - UK
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Obesity Costs - UK

Obesity Report in England
The NAO are the auditors of central Government. They are an independent body who report to Parliament on the accounts of Government departments and on the value for money with which departments have used their resources. The NAO's report, "Tackling Obesity in England", was published in February 2001. It looked at the human and financial costs of obesity, and made recommendations to Government on the way overweight and obese patients are managed within the NHS and on cross-Government work to prevent obesity.

UK Obesity Report Aim
The NAO study was undertaken in response to concerns about the trends in the prevalence of obesity, its health consequences and the costs to the NHS. The Department of Health had not attempted to estimate the cost, and most existing work on the costs of obesity was from overseas. We therefore commissioned a cost-of-illness study to enable us to estimate the costs of obesity in England for Parliament and thereby provide a platform for further debate.

The study was commissioned from leading health economists in the field: John Hutton of MEDTAP International and Professor Alistair McGuire's team at City University. The role of the NAO team was to specify what we wanted to measure, and to ensure a prudent and rigorous methodology to produce an estimate that, while conservative, would provide a firm basis for future discussion.

UK Obesity Report Results
We found that obesity costs:
- At least £1/2 billion a year to the NHS
- A further £2 billion to the wider economy
- 18 million certified sick days a year
- 30,000 deaths (6 percent of all deaths)
- And for those whose deaths are linked to obesity, it shortens life by 9 years on average.

Our report will be the subject of a Public Accounts Committee hearing later this year, followed by recommendations from the Committee to Government, and a published Government response.

Rob Prideaux, National Audit Office, 157-197 Buckingham Palace Road, London.

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