Third Lancet Series on Chronic Diseases: India - Key Facts


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1. In India, between 1998 and 2005, overweight rates increased by 20%. Currently, almost 1 in 5 men and over 1 in 6 women are overweight. However, in some urban areas rates as high as 40% have been measured.


Overweight rates in analyzed countries and OECD (adults)


 Underlying data and charts for all the graphics below are also available in Excel


2. Up to 280 000 life years could be gained through individual prevention programmes in India every year. When effects on disability are accounted for, interventions can save up to 310 000 years of life in good health (DALYs).


Health outcomes at the population level (average effect per year)



3. How much does prevention cost? How much does it save? Most prevention programmes would cost up to US$ 435 m every year, with school-based interventions costing up to US$ 795 m. Most prevention programmes will cut health expenditures for chronic diseases, but only by a relatively small margin (up to US$ 103 m per year).


Economic Assessment of the Interventions at the Population Level (Average Effect per Year)

4. Is prevention cost-effective? Prevention can improve health at a lower cost than many treatments offered today by health systems. In India, many of the prevention programmes examined will be cost-effective in the long run (i.e. 100 years) – relative to the standard of US$ 2 500 per year of life gained in good health. However, some programmes will take a longer time to produce their health effects and therefore will be less cost-effective in the short run. Others, such as fiscal measures, virtually pay for themselves after a few years.


Cost per life year gained in good health of interventions to tackle obesity



5. Up to 442 000 life years could be gained through a combination of prevention programmes in India every year. Combining several interventions to tackle unhealthy diet and physical inactivity is a very efficient way of improving population health. The cost-effectiveness ratio of a prevention strategy including a mass media campaign, food taxes and subsidies, nutritional labelling and marketing restrictions would be US$ 268 per life year gained in good health (DALY).


Cost-effectiveness and effectiveness (average effect per year) of a comprehensive prevention strategy



6. The cost of an affordable prevention package in India. A prevention strategy to tackle unhealthy diet and physical inactivity can contribute to a package designed to tackle the main risk factors for chronic diseases, including also tobacco, alcohol, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. In India, such prevention package could be implemented for an annual cost of US$ 1.5 per head. Interventions to tackle unhealthy diets and physical inactivity would cost US$ 0.35 per head.


Cost of a preventive package to tackle the main risk factors for chronic diseases


Other Countries







Russian Federation

South Africa




Further Reading


Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit not Fat


The Economics of Prevention


Key Health Publications


Key Analytical Health Projects



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