Costs of obesity in Scotland

Costs of obesity in Scotland

Frontier’s latest independent report, commissioned by Nesta, explores the costs of obesity in Scotland, including costs to individuals, costs to public services and wider social costs.

Rates of obesity have increased in recent years, and without successful policy interventions rates of obesity are expected to continue rising among both children and adults.

Our analysis suggests that the annual full costs of obesity in Scotland in 2022 are £5.3 billion. This corresponds to 3% of Scotland’s 2022 GDP. These costs are broken down as follows:

  • £4.1bn costs to individuals, including £109m to children, due to reduced health-related quality of life. This is by far the biggest cost. It is a non-financial cost, borne by individuals as poorer physical and mental health and reduced wellbeing.
  • £772m costs to the NHS for treating obesity-related conditions, and £4m costs to the NHS for antidepressant prescriptions for people living with obesity.
  • £29m costs to the social care sector for supporting care needs which are associated with obesity, and a further £217m costs (in terms of their time spent) to family and carers of people living with obesity, due to informal care which is provided.
  • £213m costs to employers and the wider economy, in the form of lost economic output due to additional sick days taken by people living with obesity.

These costs do not fall equally across the population. The 40% of people who live in more deprived areas currently bear 48% of the costs.

We estimate that the total annual costs will rise from £5.3bn in 2022 to £5.9bn in 2030, in real terms. The cumulative costs of obesity over this period are estimated to be £50.5bn.

If rates of obesity are maintained at 2022 levels, cumulative costs of £2.3bn could be avoided between 2022 and 2030, of which £1.9bn would be avoided quality of life losses to individuals.

Nesta, a charitable foundation supporting innovation for social good, is working with partners across the public, private and non-profit sector to design, test and scale innovative solutions to reducing obesity as part of their A Healthy Life Mission.

Read the full report here.