Health insurers should be factoring in the high level of obesity into its rates, according to a Swiss Re study.

Obesity has links to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, diabetes and many types of cancer, making it a major public health concern. According to Swiss Re, recent estimates show that between 10% and 20% of men and 10% and 25% of women in the developed world are obese. The problem of obesity is particularly acute among children and teenagers, it said.

Swiss Re said the insurance industry must tackle issues associated with increases in obesity by ensuring that the related risks are accurately assessed and rated, and that consumers are charged an appropriate premium to reflect the risk they present.