Obesity crisis: Future projections 'underestimated'

Overweight man eating fast food The report cast doubt over obesity predictions from a study seven years ago

Related Stories

Estimates that half the UK population will be obese by 2050 "underestimate" the problem, a report has claimed.

The National Obesity Forum said Britain was in danger of surpassing the prediction contained in a 2007 report.

The lobbying group is calling for hard-hitting awareness campaigns, similar to the approach taken to smoking, to try to stem the problem.

Chairman Prof David Haslam said the crisis could get even worse than the "doomsday scenario" already set out.

Measuring obesity

  • Most cases of obesity are caused by a person eating more calories than they burn off
  • Modern lifestyles - easy access to high calorie foods and sedentary jobs/leisure activities - make weight gain more likely
  • The healthy weight range is based on a measurement known as the body mass index (BMI)
  • This can be determined if you know your weight and your height
  • A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is deemed healthy for an adult
  • While morbid obesity is easy to spot, moving from the 'overweight' to 'obese' category may not be obvious without using BMI
  • Being obese increases your risk of developing a number of serious and potentially life-threatening diseases including heart disease and type 2 diabetes

The report stated: "It is entirely reasonable to conclude that the determinations of the 2007 Foresight Report, while shocking at the time, may now underestimate the scale of the problem."

The forum called for GPs to proactively discuss weight management with patients, and routinely measure children's height and weight and adults' waist size, it added.

Katie: "I'm 27 and I weigh 27 stone...I'm disgusted with myself"

'Concerted action'

Prof Haslam said: "We're now seven years on from the Foresight Report. Not only is the obesity situation in the UK not improving, but the doomsday scenario set out in that report might underestimate the true scale of the problem.

"There needs to be concerted action. There is a lot more we can be doing by way of earlier intervention and to encourage members of the public to take sensible steps to help themselves - but this goes hand in hand with government leadership and ensuring responsible food and drink manufacturing and retailing."

Start Quote

There is a lot more we can be doing by way of earlier intervention and to encourage members of the public to take sensible steps to help themselves”

End Quote Prof David Haslam National Obesity Forum chairman

He added: "We need more proactive engagement by healthcare professionals on weight management, more support and better signposting to services for people who are already obese, and more importance placed on what we drink and how it affects our health.

"We've seen hard-hitting campaigns against smoking and it's time to back up the work that's already being done with a similar approach for obesity."

Prof Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England (PHE), said obesity was an international problem that required action at "national, local, family and individual level".

"Everyone has a role to play in improving the health and wellbeing of the public, and children in particular," he said.

"PHE are committed to helping to tackle obesity through a range of approaches that support action on the local environment to make eating less and being more physically active easier."

A survey published in 2012 found that just over a quarter of all adults (26%) in England are obese. A further 41% of men and 33% of women are classed as overweight.

Tam Fry, also from the National Obesity Forum, told the BBC that foods needed to be "reformulated" as they were packed with sugar, fat and salt.

He said: "The problem with industry is that they're very happy to go on doing this unless they are actually whipped into shape and the only people that can do that is government.

"That is not to take away from the individual responsibility, but the individuals can only buy the food that is there on the shelves."


More on This Story

Related Stories

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites


This entry is now closed for comments

Jump to comments pagination
  • rate this

    Comment number 671.

    It's hard to stop smoking and yet people do it, it's hard to stop drug and alcohol addiction and yet people do it. It takes self control and some effort. You have to want to make a change. Start by avoiding shops that sell loads of junk food, don't indulge in take away food. When using supermarkets - don't even walk down the biscuit aisle. No-one MAKES fat people buy chocs & biscuits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 667.

    I think there is an issue with portion size too. Convenience foods are not just high in fat and sugar, they come in often three sizes - big, huge and enormous! If crisps were still sold in small packets there would be less temptation to get a big multi pack. Look at the size of steaks sold in pubs and the huge portion of chips one is given.

  • rate this

    Comment number 548.

    I mucked myself up eating the wrong food. I have to now eat the healthy way - the weight is dropping off. Don't make excuses for yourself - you know that you are. Act now and change your life - before it changes you - Diabetes, blood - pressure and a thousand other things. Its my gift of a warning before its too late - I am busy dodging a bullet.......please take heed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 527.

    I am overweight.
    If I allowed myself, I could become obese. It would be easy. I am sure that I would enjoy eating and drinking more.
    I choose not to do this. This means I have to limit the amount I eat and drink, and take an appropriate amount of exercise.(walking)
    It really is that simple.
    Everyone has a choice on how to live. It is not up to the state to tell us. It is up to the individual.

  • rate this

    Comment number 520.

    I've back from shopping having read this article earlier. With that in mind, the availability of high sugar foods was very evident. Aisles full of sweets, biscuits, crisps, jams, spreads, desserts, ice-creams, cakes, some of it cheap and some of it not so cheap. It's the over-availability of these foods that is a concern. They are now no longer treats but essentials. Sad


Comments 5 of 17


More Health stories



Try our new site and tell us what you think. Learn more
Take me there

Copyright © 2015 BBC. The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.