Consumers looking to buy a life insurance cover may soon have to include their weight on the application form in order to enable life insurers to accurately assess the risk they present, warns life and health reinsurer Swiss Re.
For obese people this could, apart from being a possible humiliation, also lead to more expensive life insurance cover.
The Switzerland-based firm says the growing number of people suffering from obesity around the world will have financial implications for consumers of life insurance products and society as a whole.
Just as smoking causes higher premiums, Swiss Re believes obesity - which is linked to many different types of diseases - could push up the price of life cover.
The reinsurer says the life industry must deal with issues associated with increases in obesity by ensuring the related risks are "accurately assessed and rated and that consumers are charged an appropriate premium to reflect the risk they present".
Ronald Klein, global head of pricing at Swiss Re's life & health business group, says: "Obesity usually stems from a lifestyle choice. Society has dealt with smoking through a variety of measures including education and persuasion.
"Confronting obesity is now an equally pressing task, calling for a combined and determined effort from all parties. Governments, the medical profession, food manufacturers and consumers - particularly parents - need to be alert to this emerging risk and to play a role in confronting it."
Unless the prevalence of obesity is brought under control, consumers will bear the ultimate cost. As consumers' Body Mass Index - weight divided by height squared - goes up, so too will their premiums," he warns.IFAonline
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