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Obesity in UK could surge to 26 million

26 million Britons could be obese by 2030 461,000 to face heart disease

Almost 26 million Britons could be obese by 2030 if current trends continue, and 461,000 could develop heart disease, new research claims.

Up to 15 million people are currently obese in the UK, and researchers estimate its growth could increase spending on obesity-related health problems by 25 per cent annually, or £2 billion.

The research, published in the Lancet, highlights the health and economic burdens of obesity in advance of the first UN meeting on non-communicable diseases.

Globally, about 1.5 billion people are overweight, and an additional 500 million are obese.

The health care costs of treating obesity now account for between 2 and 6 per cent of total healthcare costs in many countries, even exceeding the costs of treating tobacco-related conditions.

Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “These predicted figures for obesity and heart disease in the UK are deeply worrying and show how urgently action is needed. And it’s not just the UK, obesity is now a global pandemic fuelling diseases such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer. If we fail to tackle it now we’ll leave a legacy of people living poor quality lives and dying young.

“What we have to remember is that obesity is a ‘normal response’ to our environment. Culturally, we’re reliant on cars, our jobs and leisure activities are increasingly sedentary and we are faced with an abundance of easily available high-energy foods.   “Yet while we all have a role to play in tackling this problem, this research recognises that national governments are the most significant players - ahead of individuals, industry and civil society. In the UK, we need our Government to take the lead and make it easier to be healthier, such as by ensuring children are fully protected from junk food marketing on and off line.”

This article was published on Fri 26 August 2011

Image © Sheila Eames - Fotolia.com

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