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Obes Res. 2004 Feb;12(2):173-9.

Economics and obesity: costing the problem or evaluating solutions?

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  • 1Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada.


There is no doubt that obesity is a major public health problem. However, what is the contribution of economics to solving it? In this report, we make the case that the role of economics is not in measuring the economic burden of obesity, through so-called cost-of-illness studies. Such studies merely confirm that obesity is a serious societal issue; adding a monetary figure to this does not add much. The economic foundations of such estimates can also be questioned, thus lessening their policy relevance. The real value of economics in the arena of obesity care is in evaluating, through formal economic evaluation, the use of our scarce health care resources in different strategies to prevent and treat obesity.

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