Obesity crisis: Future projections 'underestimated'

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

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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."


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  • 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

  • rate this

    Comment number 519.

    This is just a load of old tosh being served up. Forget your bodies and think of your mind. You prattle on about healthy eating what but what about healthy mentation. We all have minds bloated with tripe such as this sorry digital rag serves us. Get us running round venting when the real issues are buried by sensational and emotive none issues. You don't have to live like an hypnotised sheep!

  • rate this

    Comment number 518.

    I'm not fat I'm Rubenesque.

  • rate this

    Comment number 517.

    Obesity is Growing!

    It's an epidemic.

    I wish all "diseases" could be cured as easily.
    Eat less food ,do more exercise.


  • rate this

    Comment number 516.

    Tempest in a teapot, and I'd doubt the data anyway. Probably not as many fat as stated, and even for those who are, 'fat' is not necessarily unfit.

    For those who are a bit 'big-boned', the solutions are often very simple. Eat less, eat better, and most of all, move more.

    But no doubt we will get big initiatives involving charities, govts, retailers and producers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 515.

    Not sure I agree with everything she says, but the basic premiss seems sound, http://www.ted.com/talks/sandra_aamodt_why_dieting_doesn_t_usually_work.htm

  • rate this

    Comment number 514.

    BMI is totally discredited. Sadly, many so-called professionals haven't yet cottoned on to the fact.

  • rate this

    Comment number 513.

    494 Redredred

    "leaflet just thru my door: 10" pizza, £4. chik 5 wings, coleslaw, chips,drink £3.80. Free delivery. So, for £28 per week I could get junk food delivered every night. No wonder we are seeing more obese people"

    Funnily enough, for £112 a month I could fresh cook ALL my healthy meals (bkfast +lunch too) and still have change - that £28pw is only for the Evening meal.

  • rate this

    Comment number 512.


    "I think the NHS should have the right to minimise or withdraw treatment if specific and personal advice on health improvement isn't being taken."

    I take it you agree on the same approach for smokers, alcoholics, drug addicts etc and those with anorexia and bulimia as well? What about those with repeated self-harm and suicide attempts?

    Don't they all "do it to themselves?"

  • rate this

    Comment number 511.

    490 Stuart Nicoll
    Short walk to the bus-stop? Hmm, first bus is 1130, too late for school (2.5 miles away). Local bus company gives us 2 buses a day (1130 and 1430) and the latter doesn't come back.
    506 OnesMaw
    Doctors are sometimes the problem and DON'T always know- they tell you to stop eating something, then another healthcare prof says you MUST eat it to remain healthy!

  • rate this

    Comment number 510.

    The trouble is that fat people want to be accepted as normal when they are not. So they complain about skinny catwalk models as they cram another cake into their fat faces. They moan about anorexia being caused by unrealistic body images as lard drips off their flabby chins. They are great tubs of blubber because they eat too much.

  • rate this

    Comment number 509.

    If overweight people can't get NHS support to lose weight and must be responsible for themselves, then I put it to you the public that junkies, smokers, and alkies must also take responsibility and not rely on NHS support

  • rate this

    Comment number 508.

    To add to my last comment...I lost 5 1/2 stone when I was 16 (in 6 weeks) and was 'normal' size, I kept it off for a good 10 years, but inevitably it has crept back on. I am lazy, and a terrible cook with very little imagination, it would be incredible if an entrpreneurial genius founded the first 'healthy food delivery service'. I would eat nothing but healthy meals if that was the case. Anyone?

  • rate this

    Comment number 507.

    This is a problem which isn't being solved by people saying "just have some self control".

    Consider that if this situation doesn't change we are going to see an even greater strain on the NHS, do you honestly think it's going to cope?

    Let's try every cost effective option to help people to get into a healthier shape, if we carry on as is then our health service is will be in dire straights.

  • rate this

    Comment number 506.

    @500. Jenny-herts-uk

    You don't have to pay for a nutritionist - any good GP will give you dietary advice or refer you to somebody then can - it's far cheaper for the NHS to address the problem before any medical problems arise.

  • rate this

    Comment number 505.

    I am obese, just. I am obese because I am lazy and I eat too much of the wrong stuff. I can afford the right stuff, I just don't like it. I know what I do is potentially bad for me. That is my choice. I don't make or need any excuses.

  • rate this

    Comment number 504.

    As someone who has ballooned since age 18 and 9 stone to around 16 stone at 50 I don't think the answer is in using scare tactics.
    Every year I train all summer in order to do a 10 k. Training falls behind in Winter. This year I've set myself a target of maintaining my training all year. Hopefully this along with some healthy eating will break my pattern.
    Encouragement and support are the answer

  • rate this

    Comment number 503.

    Remove the subsidy for gluttony, and we'll have fewer gluttons.

    End NHS treatment for afflictions flowing from obesity. People must become responsible for both negative and positive consequences of their personal choices. They'll quickly learn to make better choices.

    Freedom means the freedom to make choices, and reap their consequences. Or, let's keep paying people to make poor choices.

  • rate this

    Comment number 502.

    "There's more fat people waddling round in uniform in the NHS than in the local ASDA!"

    Depressingly true.

    “you're all judging from behind your computer screens and I bet many of you haven't realised you're probably classified as overweight”

    I’m not

    “And those claiming losing weight is easy”

    Put less food in and do more exercise. It is that easy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 501.

    I have the greatest admiration for those who are overweight and lose it...I have never had to think about my weight...ever....and now do & realize hey, its tough to lose even a few kg when socializing means food/drink & tv ads are food/drink too...I didn't pay attention before but this is big business. Gym equipment, dr's prescriptions, diet foods, how to books, recipe bks., clothes, its awful !!!


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