Obesity is a known risk factor for a number of diseases with serious mortality and morbidity implications. Thus, obesity is an economic burden to communities, since it reduces quality of life and leads to premature mortality; in addition, healthcare resources are used to manage obesity-related disease. It was estimated that in 1989, management of disease due to obesity (defined as body mass index > 30) cost A$395 million. This estimate covers the healthcare costs for the management of obesity, non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus (NIDDM), gallstones, hypertension, coronary heart disease (CHD), breast cancer (among postmenopausal women), and colon cancer. As this estimate excludes the costs of some disease attributable to obesity, it is an underestimate of the true costs. Nonetheless, the estimated cost of the management of obesity-related conditions represents 86% of the healthcare costs used for the management of alcohol-related diseases in Australia. Healthcare costs attributable to obesity have not yet been estimated for countries elsewhere in Asia and the Pacific. However, it is acknowledged that obesity is a major problem in the Pacific, with exceptionally high prevalence rates and concomitant high rates of diseases for which obesity is a major risk factor, particularly NIDDM and CHD. It would, therefore, be useful to explore the cost of disease attributable to obesity in healthcare systems in these communities, and the potential for preventive programmes to reduce these costs.