Institute News

Published January 21, 2019

London Calling

Against the backdrop of a key vote in the UK Parliament on Brexit, antitax demonstrations in France and uncertainty regarding the leadership of Germany, the Milken Institute 2018 London Summit lived up to its theme of “navigating a changing Europe.” Held in early December, the Summit brought together some 1,000 leaders for 20 panel discussions and 31 invitation-only sessions. Participants enjoyed a diverse menu of topics to choose from, including how artificial intelligence will change business in the next decade, the role energy plays in a carbon-constrained world, and the unintended consequences of post-crisis financial regulation.

The Summit kicked off with a plenary panel on the future of the UK and EU, which included two former Cabinet ministers — Labour’s Peter Mandelson and the Conservative, Jo Johnson — in surprising agreement regarding Brexit. The plenary-session lunch featured Institute chairman, Mike Milken, in discussion with two of the world’s leading “new optimists,” the Swedish designer Anna Rosling Rönnlund and the British journalist Matt Ridley. Videos of the panels can be found on the Institute’s YouTube channel.

Health on our Minds

Recent reports from MI researchers shed light on troubling public health questions.

Building on the Institute’s ongoing work on the economic cost of obesity, Hugh Waters (director of health economics research) and Marlon Graf (health research analyst) offer “America’s Obesity Crisis: The Health and Economic Impact of Excess Weight.” They conclude that the cost now exceeds $1.7 trillion annually, or roughly 9 percent of the nation’s GDP. The study draws on research linking excess poundage to breast cancer, heart disease and osteoarthritis, estimating the added cost of medical treatment and lost productivity for each disease. “Despite the billions of dollars spent each year on public health programs and consumer weight-loss products,” warns Waters, “the situation isn’t improving.”

Meanwhile, the Institute’s Center for Strategic Philanthropy partnered with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance on a first-of-its-kind patient survey designed to guide both research and treatment. One finding from more than 3,000 responses: 27 percent of those living with depression or bipolar disorder report that symptoms began before age 12, and two-thirds prior to age 18. This suggests that expanding pre-adolescent treatment should be a priority. “Given that mental illness is the third most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for those aged 18-44,” explains Melissa Stevens, executive director of the Center for Strategic Philanthropy, “it is critical that care and treatment be calibrated with their input.

Lord Peter Mandelson makes a point in the lively opening plenary on “The Future of the United Kingdom and the European Union.”