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The study claims obesity could end up costing the NHS as much as £12bn a yearReuters

Obesity is a greater burden on the UK's economy than war, terrorism and armed violence, costing nearly £47bn ($73bn) a year, a study has revealed.

According to a report by McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), more than 2.1 billion people in the world are overweight or obese, with the figure set to rise to include nearly half of the population by 2030.

The research, commissioned by consultant McKinsey and Company, put forward a total of 44 recommendations to help reduce the "global obesity crisis".

The report claims the measures, including stricter portion control in fast food or ready meals, introducing healthy meals in schools and encouraging a healthier lifestyle by creating more bicycle lanes, could save around £16bn a year – including £766m for the NHS – and help around 20% of overweight people in the country get back to a healthier weight.

The report says: "Obesity is a major global economic problem caused by a multitude of factors. Today obesity is jostling with armed conflict and smoking in terms of having the greatest human-generated global economic impact.

"The global economic impact of obesity is increasing. The evidence suggests that the economic and societal impact of obesity is deep and lasting."

The study blamed the government's policy on obesity being "too fragmented to be effective", adding investment in preventing the problem is too low given the "scale of the problem". MGI claims the UK spends around £638m a year on obesity prevention programmes.

The research claims that by 2030, the cost of obesity and overweight conditions to the NHS could increase from between £6bn and £8bn in 2015 to between £10bn and £12bn.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England (PHE), said: "Overweight and obesity is a complex problem which requires action across individual and societal levels involving industry, national and local government and the voluntary sector. There is no single silver-bullet solution.

"Today 25% of the nation is obese and 37% is overweight. If we reduce obesity to 1993 levels, where 15% of the population were obese, we will avoid five million disease cases and save the NHS alone an additional £1.2bn by 2034.

"PHE will continue to support local authorities to provide effective weight management services, to influence the regulation of fast food outlets and provide healthier catering in hospitals and schools, which will all help people to lose weight."