Obesity and the Public Purse

23 January 2017

This is the first study to estimate the annual savings that overweight and obese people bring UK taxpayers by dying prematurely (in 2016 prices). Ignoring these savings leads to substantial overestimation of the true burden of elevated body mass index (BMI) to the taxpayer.

 

Our estimate of the present value of pension, healthcare and other benefit payments avoided through early, BMI-caused deaths (net of foregone tax payments) is £3.6 billion per annum.

 

This paper argues the ‘burden-on-the-taxpayer’ narrative, propagated by public health campaigners, is overblown. While claims of a crippling cost are a good way to get media attention, especially during a time of slow motion crisis in the NHS, they irresponsibly incite resentment of a vulnerable group.

 

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