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The economic burden of overweight and obesity in Saudi Arabia

Jesse D Malkin, Drishti Baid, Reem F Alsukait, Taghred Alghaith, Mohammed Alluhidan, Hana Alabdulkarim, Abdulaziz Altowaijri, Ziyad S Almalki, Christopher H Herbst, Eric Andrew Finkelstein, Sameh El-Saharty and Nahar Alazemi

PLOS ONE, 2022, vol. 17, issue 3, 1-8

Abstract: Context: The prevalence of overweight and obesity in Saudi Arabia has been rising. Although the health burden of excess weight is well established, little is known about the economic burden. Aims: To assess the economic burden—both direct medical costs and the value of absenteeism and presenteeism—resulting from overweight and obesity in Saudi Arabia. Settings and design: The cost of overweight and obesity in Saudi Arabia was estimated from a societal perspective using an epidemiologic approach. Methods and materials: Data were obtained from previously published studies and secondary databases. Statistical analysis used: Overweight/obesity-attributable costs were calculated for six major noncommunicable diseases; sensitivity analyses were conducted for key model parameters. Results: The impact of overweight and obesity for these diseases is found to directly cost a total of $3.8 billion, equal to 4.3 percent of total health expenditures in Saudi Arabia in 2019. Estimated overweight and obesity–attributable absenteeism and presenteeism costs a total of $15.5 billion, equal to 0.9 percent of GDP in 2019. Conclusions: Even when limited to six diseases and a subset of total indirect costs, results indicate that overweight and obesity are a significant economic burden in Saudi Arabia. Future studies should identify strategies to reduce the health and economic burden resulting from excess weight in Saudi Arabia.

Date: 2022
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DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0264993

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