Fatties may damage British economy, experts warn

London: As the British take the title of the fatest in Europe, experts warn that the obesity epidemic could damage the economy.

But this could all be changed if talented professionals die early or retire because of sickness.

Professor Martin McKee said that the British Treasury has identified the cost of obesity to the NHS as a major problem but research shows how much healthy people contribute to the health of the economy.

He said: “They remain in the workforce longer and are more productive while they are at work. This is vital as the overall age of the population rises and people are encouraged to retire later.

‘”t is a waste of money investing in training people if they die at 35 or retire in their 50s because of ill health.”

The team at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, examined the link between health and wealth in rich countries, and found healthier people have higher earnings.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal, said the current economic wealth of rich countries ‘owes much to previous health gains’.

About 30 per cent of financial growth in the United Kingdom between 1790 and 1980 can be attributed to better health and dietary intake.

Professor McKee said: ‘The overwhelming conclusion is that good health has benefits beyond the individual.

‘The true purpose of economic activity is to maximise social welfare and not simply to produce more goods and services.

‘Since better health is an important component of social welfare, its value ought to be included in measures of economic progress.

‘This has been done successfully in the United States. Similar moves in Europe could provide a new perspective on the investments made through their welfare states.’

Cardiovascular disease costs UK economy £29 billion annually

Oxford, Cardiovascular disease costs the UK economy £29 billion a year in healthcare expenditure and lost productivity, reveals research to be published in the medical magazine Heart.

The UK spends more of its healthcare budget on cardiovascular disease than any other country in the European Union, the figures show.

The research team from the Health Economics Research Centre at the University of Oxford base their calculations on all UK residents with diagnosed cardiovascular disease in 2004 and associated costs.

These included community health and social services, emergency care, hospital stays, informal care, and the impact on productivity from illness and premature death.

When all these factors were added up, the total costs to the UK economy of cardiovascular disease in 2004 came to £29 billion.

The largest component was healthcare, which accounted for 60% of the total. Lost productivity accounted for 23% and informal care cost 17%.

Cardiovascular disease and cost the NHS almost £16 billion in 2004, representing 21% of all healthcare expenditure. Private healthcare costs add almost £1.5 billion to the tally, representing 18% of overall UK healthcare costs.

These figures represent the highest proportion of healthcare expenditure on cardiovascular disease of any country in the European Union.

Hospital inpatient care was the most expensive component at almost £10 billion or nearly two thirds of the NHS bill for cardiovascular disease.. Drug costs amounted to almost £3 billion.

More than 69 million work days were lost to the disease in 2004, at a cost to the UK economy of almost £3 billion.

An accompanying editorial suggests that despite the falling rates of illness and death from cardiovascular disease, cost savings are likely to be cancelled out by the rising costs of treatment, the ageing of the population, and the threat to heart health posed by obesity and diabetes