Obesity and the Economics of Prevention: Fit not Fat - Italy Key Facts


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Read this country note in Italian | Leggi le principali statistiche in italiano


1. Obesity rates are low in Italy, relative to most OECD countries, but are very high among children. About 1 in 10 people is obese in Italy, significantly less than the OECD average of 1 in 6. More than 1 in 2 men and 1 in 3 women are overweight. OECD projections indicate that overweight rates will increase by a further 5% within ten years. In Italy, 1 in 3 children is overweight, one of the highests rate in the OECD.


Past and projected overweight rates

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

2. Large socio-economic disparities in obesity exist, both in men and women. Women with poor education in Italy are 3 times more likely to be overweight than more educated women. Disparitiesare smaller in men, but still higher than in many other OECD countries. Poorly educated men are 1.3 times more likely to be overweight than more educated ones.


Relative Index of Inequality in Overweight by Education level



3. Individual prevention programmes could avoid up to 50 000 deaths from chronic diseases every year. Deaths avoided could increase to 75 000 if different interventions were combined in a comprehensive prevention strategy. An organised programme of counselling of obese people by their family doctors would also lead to an annual gain of over 70 000 years of life in good health.


Health Outcomes at the Population Level (Average Effect per Year)

4. How much does prevention cost? How much does it save? Most prevention programmes would cost less than EUR 100 m every year, with individual counselling by family doctors costing up to EUR 580 m. Most prevention programmes will cut health expenditures for chronic diseases, but only by a relatively small margin (up to EUR 72 m per year).


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

5. Is prevention cost-effective? Prevention can improve health at a lower cost than many treatments offered today by OECD health systems. In Italy, almost all of the prevention programmes examined will be cost-effective in the long run – relative to internationally accepted standards corresponding to around EUR 35 000 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.

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


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Further Reading


The Economics of Prevention


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