Unprecedented improvements in population health have been recorded in OECD countries during the past century, thanks to economic growth and to public policies in education, sanitation, health, and welfare. Yet industrialisation and prosperity have been
accompanied by increases in the incidence of a number of chronic diseases, for which obesity is a major risk factor. This chapter looks at the impact of obesity on health and longevity and the economic costs that obesity generates, now and for the future. It examines
the role of prevention in mitigating these effects and presents a case for how an economic perspective on the prevention of chronic diseases linked to lifestyles and obesity can provide insight into better ways of addressing the obesity epidemic.