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The Cost of Weight Loss

The Cost of Weight Loss

Where in the world is losing weight the most expensive?

Losing weight isn’t always easy and can be very expensive, depending on where you live. Many people know that to shed the pounds, you often have to do more than just pack more vegetables into your diet.

Examining factors like healthy food prices, gym membership costs, surgery costs and prescription drugs for weight loss, Universal Drugstore has shed some light on the economic hurdles some people face to improve their health and manage their weight.

The cost of weight loss medication around the world

The costs of approved weight loss drugs like Ozempic, Rybelsus, Wegovy, and Mounjaro vary enormously between countries. The United States faces by far the highest prices, with Ozempic and Rybelsus (semaglutide) costing $936 per prescription, Wegovy (semaglutide) at $1,349, and Mounjaro (tirzepatide) at $1,023.

In contrast, Japan, Canada, Switzerland, and several European nations like Germany, the Netherlands, and Sweden have far lower prices, between $69–$444 for these same drugs.

Luxembourg is the cheapest country to lead a healthy lifestyle,with a weight loss cost score of 8.98 out of 10

  1. Luxembourg | 8.98 out of 10
    Luxembourg tops the list, with 0% of the population unable to afford a healthy diet throughout the country. While a nutritious diet costs $2.59 per day, one barrier to a healthy lifestyle may be the average monthly fee of $37.88 for a gym membership. However, Luxembourg's high average yearly wages of $89,200 offset this.
  2. Denmark | 8.20 out of 10
    Denmark follows closely with the second-highest weight loss cost score of 8.20 out of 10. Only 0.2% of Danes cannot afford a healthy diet, which costs $2.50 daily on average. Gym memberships could be pricey for some people at $39.09 monthly, though Denmark's strong $73,520 average yearly wages make weight loss more attainable financially.
  3. Ireland | 8.13 out of 10
    In Ireland, only 0.1% cannot afford a nutritious diet priced at $2.15 per day. However, the steep $51.23 monthly gym fee and lower average yearly wages of $79,730 compared to Luxembourg resulted in Ireland's weight loss cost score of 8.13.
  4. Finland | 8.00 out of 10
    Despite healthy diets costing $2.72 daily and monthly gym memberships being $43.63 on average, Finland's relatively lower $54,930 yearly wages impact its weight loss cost score of 8.00. Like Luxembourg, the entire population can afford a healthy diet in this country.
  5. Switzerland | 7.89 out of 10
    Switzerland has the highest gym membership fees out of the top 10 at $83.05 monthly, though its $95,490 average yearly wages are among the highest. This, combined with 0% of the population being unable to afford a $2.62 daily healthy diet, means Switzerland's weight loss cost score is 7.89.

A healthy lifestyle is most expensive in Thailand, with a score of1.16 out of 10

  1. Thailand | 1.16 out of 10
    Thailand ranks as the least affordable country for weight loss efforts, with 18% of the population unable to afford a healthy daily diet, which averages $4.46 per person. Alongside this issue are the relatively high $44.81 monthly gym fees compared to Thailand's low $7,230 average yearly wages, resulting in a 1.16 weight loss cost score out of 10.
  2. Costa Rica | 1.50 out of 10
    In Costa Rica, 14.4% cannot afford a nutritious diet's $3.93 daily cost. Gym memberships are even more expensive at $54.51 per month, a significant expense for Costa Ricans earning just $12,920 yearly on average.
  3. South Africa | 1.60 out of 10
    South Africa faces the biggest nutritional challenge, with 66.7% unable to pay for a $4.57 per day healthy diet. While gym fees of $30.49 monthly are more reasonable, low $6,780 yearly incomes could make weight loss expensive for most South Africans.
  4. Japan | 2.48 out of 10
    Despite being an economic powerhouse, 2.4% of Japanese people cannot afford the $5.64 daily cost of eating healthy. Add $53.98 monthly gym fees, and even with $42,440 average yearly wages factored in, Japan scores 2.48 out of 10.
  5. Serbia | 2.55 out of 10
    In Serbia, 10.3% are priced out of a healthy diet of $4.35 per day. The $29.76 monthly gym cost is more manageable than some nations, but modest $9,290 yearly incomes limit weight loss affordability, meaning Serbia has been awarded a weight loss cost score of 2.55.

The United States is the least affordable place to lose weightusing surgery

The costs of pursuing weight loss through surgical procedures like gastric bypass and gastric sleeve vary dramatically between countries. In the United Kingdom, these surgeries average $15,300 and $11,800, respectively, which, coupled with $40.63 monthly gym fees and a $49,240 yearly income, result in a good weight loss cost score of 6.86 out of 10.

Canada and Australia are both at the high end for bariatric surgery expenses, with average costs ranging from $15,700–$20,000. When factoring in gym memberships around $40-$50 monthly, these two countries score 5.43 and 5.00 in weight loss affordability despite having higher national incomes.

The United States has the highest costs out of the countries in this study, which compared quotes from popular medical tourism destinations for weight loss surgeries like gastric bypass and gastric sleeve. A gastric bypass costs around $25,000 in the U.S., while a gastric sleeve averages $27,000. Adding to the challenges, the $3.50 daily cost of eating a healthy diet in the U.S. leaves 1% of the population unable to afford nutritious meals.

The importance of sourcing weight loss drugs safely from legitimate pharmacies

Dr Jamie Winn PharmD, Medical Director at Universal Drugstore, shares why you
need to be cautious when buying weight loss medication: “With the rise in popularity of new weight loss medications like Ozempic, Wegovy, and Mounjaro, it's crucial for patients to get these drugs through proper medical channels. The temptation to seek out cheaper sources from unregulated suppliers can put your health at serious risk.

“Counterfeit versions of these medications can be sold by illegitimate pharmacists, made with unknown ingredients that could range from ineffective fillers to dangerous substances.

Side effects of these may be unpredictable and potentially even life-threatening. Patients using these sites are also unable to receive proper guidance on dosing or insights on how these weight-loss drugs could work with other conditions and medications.

“Legitimate pharmacists and doctors follow strict protocols and have the medical training to prescribe or dispense weight loss drugs only when deemed safe and appropriate for each patient's circumstances. For your safety, it's simply not worth the risks of sourcing from
anywhere besides a lawful, regulated pharmacy.”


Universal Drugstore created an index using the following factors:

Cost of gym memberships by country
Accessed using Numbeo on 13/05/2024.

Cost of a healthy diet and percentage of the population that cannot afford it
Accessed using The World Bank on 13/05/2024.

Average annual wages around the world
Accessed using on 13/05/2024.

Using these factors, we gave each country a normalised score out of ten for each factor using the PERCENTRANK function and then took an average across all factors. The number of people who cannot afford a healthy diet (% of population) and cost of a healthy diet (per person, per day) factors were given double weightings within the index.

Additional data on the price of weight loss injectables in different countries was sourced from the Health System Tracker, and the cost of weight loss surgery from the Medical Tourism Corporation. We then gave each country a normalised score out of ten for each factor using the PERCENTRANK function and then took an average across all factors. The average cost of gastric bypass, the average cost of gastric sleeve, cost of a healthy diet, and the number of people who cannot afford a healthy diet (% of population) factors were given double weightings within the index.All data was accessed on 13/05/2024 and is correct as of then.