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Obesity costs Portugal 1.2 billion euros a year

OBESITY COSTS PORTUGAL 1.2 BILLION EUROS A YEARObesity and people being overweight represents a direct annual cost of an estimated 1.2 billion euros in Portugal, a value equivalent to 0.6% of the wealth produced in the country, says a study released yesterday by the Centre for the Study of Evidence-Based Medicine (CEMBE) of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Lisbon and by the consultant Evigrade-IQVIA.

According to the study’s findings, the obesity-related diseases that contribute most to the €1.2 billion in direct health costs are diabetes, stroke, ischemic heart disease and chronic kidney disease.

“It is important to emphasise that the cost of treating these diseases is 88 times higher than the cost of treating obesity `per se’, which exceeds 13 million euros a year”, says the study named “The Cost and Burden of Overweight and Obesity in Portugal”, which had the scientific sponsorship of the Portuguese Society for the Study of Obesity (SPEO) and the support of Novo Nordisk Portugal.

The data also indicates that approximately two thirds of the Portuguese adult population (67.6%) are overweight or obese, with 28.7%. of those being constantly obese.

In 2018, there were 46,269 deaths from obesity-related diseases, which represents 43% of the total deaths that occurred in mainland Portugal that year”, states the document.

The burden of the disease was evaluated in disability-adjusted life years, which combine the years of life lost due to premature death and disability, which allows us to conclude that “obesity in Portugal causes the loss of 203,002 years of life” adjusted by disability per year, which exceeds the number of years lost due to stroke.

To better understand the magnitude of the problem, and when we look at the loss of more than 200,000 disability-adjusted life years, this means practically the same as taking nine days of life per year from every Portuguese adult.”, said Margarida Borges, the researcher who led the study.

According to the researcher, these numbers demonstrate a “true non-communicable pandemic and underscore the urgency” of actively involving the population in preventing overweight and obesity and ensuring early diagnosis and adequate treatment for people.

For Paula Freitas, endocrinologist and president of SPEO, the research findings reinforce the need for a “greater focus on prevention, on strengthening the intervention of primary health care, on a multidisciplinary approach, on equitable access to adequate treatment – surgical and pharmacological – and zero tolerance for the stigma and discrimination that people living with obesity still suffer”.