The Cost of Obesity in Healthcare

January 25, 2011

By Jessica Willing-Pichs, Senior Research & Product Stategist

The infographic below (published in McKinsey Quarterly, January 2011) is a riveting illustration of how much obesity costs American society – at least $450 billion annually. With more than 12.5 million children and 73 million American adults categorized as obese, this is unquestionably a national crisis.

What is equally staggering is that there are so many proven strategies available, whether it as simple as walking our kids to school, watching less TV, getting more sleep, making better personal choices to more complex solutions that involve food access channels and national food & beverage standards. What I believe is fundmentally lacking is motivation. Clearly, McKinsey’s study shows that money (at least at the current level) is not enough to drive the kind of paradigm shift that is needed – either at the individual consumer level or at the corporate, institutional or government levels. The dread of the doctor’s annual wagging finger when you step off the scale is not enough either. Losing weight is hard work, it takes discipline. It’s definitely not fun. Where is the right motivation going to come from?