Health policies and data

Third Lancet Series on Chronic Diseases: China - Key Facts


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1. In China, during the last 15 years, overweight rates doubled and obesity rates tripled. Now, 1 in 3 men and 1 in 4 women are overweight.


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 306 000 life years could be gained through individual prevention programmes in China every year. When effects on disability are accounted for, interventions can save up to 359 000 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$ 445 m every year, with individual counselling by family doctors costing up to US$ 570 m. All prevention programmes will cut health expenditures for chronic diseases, but only by a relatively small margin (up to US$ 277 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 China, most of the prevention programmes examined will be cost-effective in the long run (i.e. 100 years) – relative to the standard of US$ 5 000 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. Others, such as fiscal measures and food labelling, will pay for themselves after a few years.


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


  5. Up to 975 000 life years could be gained through a combination of prevention programmes in China 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$ 377 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 China. 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 China, such prevention package could be implemented for an annual cost of US$ 1.7 per head. Interventions to tackle unhealthy diets and physical inactivity would cost US$ 0.43 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


Public Health


Key Health Publications


Key Analytical Health Projects



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