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
    +3

    Comment number 540.

    @511. nagivatorjan

    So it's now the doctors fault as well? It was only a suggestion for people who can't afford a nutritionist (how much training do they actually do?)

    As for 2.5 mile walk? What's the problem, my mum used to walk me 2 miles to school, took around 40mins. I still walk everywhere, as does she, and we're both fit and healthy!

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 539.

    If the UK government wants to address obesity, they need to address the soaring levels of low income, debt, stress and depression; and also inflexible work practices which tie staff to their desks for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week (or longer). More investment in our leisure facilities and green spaces would help too, invest in local pools and sports centres and make city parks safe and appealing.

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 538.

    Countries (mainly Scandinavian) that dont have an obesity problem legislate against things like sugar, fat and other products in food, dont have obesity problems. This government chose to ask the food industry for policy advice on health matter. No surprise that they dont want to, is it? For the record, I was 23st and have been 13st for 10 years so I know what it is like to avoid these pitfalls

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 537.

    "... I put on 40 lbs in the first year at my job and another 40 lbs the following year. I am, quite literally, tied to my desk for a full year hour shift minus a short lunch and coffee break. Further, I am forced to sit for another 2.5 hours per day, commuting. Until employers decentralise and slow workpace so employees can move, nothing will change"
    ...
    Were you force fed?

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 536.

    I see that all the large folk are on here trying to justify their size. All the excuses under the sun, but no evidence of a sense of personal responsibility.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 535.

    It proves that the British are lazy and greedy .

  • rate this
    +6

    Comment number 534.

    @521.Jane
    "There are many reasons why some people are overweight - not all of them are overeating. Thyroid problems are not a result of lifestyle, nor is type 1 diabetes. Both can cause people to carry more weight than our current ideal body images."

    Yes, metabolism plays a part but if you eat less and exercise more you will be less obese than if you carry on! Look for solutions not excuses!

  • rate this
    +5

    Comment number 533.

    It's time people showed a bit of willpower & resposibility and stopped trying to use everything from ignorance to 'it's on the shelfs' as an excuse for being overweight.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 532.

    "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."

    Sounds really worthwhile - but what's the betting the government decides to make money out of the problem, rather than take steps to solve it (I'm not being anti-coalition, all sides would do the same.)

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 531.

    475.billbi

    "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."

    So long as you also apply it to all those who knowing take risks with their lives.

    Oh sorry - that includes everybody, every day - it's called living - life is a terminal condition!

  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 530.

    For those withour an eating disorder, the answer is simple! Stop putting large quanities of food down your throat at every conceivable opportunity. I had to take a friend to hospital today for a scan, the number of grossly fat people sitting in the cafeteria stuufing food down their faces was an eye opener alot of them were young and could hardly walk. Coke, snacks and crisps are not healthy!

  • rate this
    +7

    Comment number 529.

    154 "For some there is no choice at all.." - absolute apologist rubbish, food has never been more plentiful or cheaper. Aldi us selling garlic, lettuce, cucumber, celery, spring onions and lettuce at 39p a pack. An extremely small number of cases can be put down to genuine illness, the rest is a toxic mix of ignorance, laziness and PC apologism.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 528.

    Exhortations and oversight by doctors won't work. I put on 40 lbs in the first year at my job and another 40 lbs the following year. I am, quite literally, tied to my desk for a full year hour shift minus a short lunch and coffee break. Further, I am forced to sit for another 2.5 hours per day, commuting. Until employers decentralise and slow workpace so employees can move, nothing will change

  • rate this
    +41

    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
    +10

    Comment number 526.

    If weight loss equals nutritionists and gyms you're over-thinking things. You'll attempt lifestyle changes you can't feasibly keep (accept it: you're not a sports billy and you like eating). Concentrate on small changes - leave the car and walk more often, be honest to yourself about your snacking, etc etc. But allow yourself the odd treat. Slowly but surely, you'll lose weight.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 525.

    @482 The govt does make a huge profit out of smokers , who more than fund their cost to the NHS, hence the alarm at the popularity of ecigs. Far more damaging and costly to society in terms of unemployment, family breakdown, NHS costs, police time, etc, etc, etc, is alcohol.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 524.

    there should be no so called FAT TAX introduce, we already pay VAT on all take aways.
    The problems starts from childhood with parents not letting their children play outside from an early age. This is the start where kids are babysat infront of the TV, and the way of life is set from adults.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 523.

    I'm just too short for my weight. And it's my own fault no one else's fault. I want to lose weight for my health, but I'm not only fighting to lose weight, I'm fighting against one million years of genetic programming that tells me to eat as much as I can because there may be a shortage. Weak willed yes, I read the self help book but the dog ate it before I finished. Must try harder 5-2 diet next

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 522.

    Well said.....David 502! NHS should be leaders in this and staff should note be obese. Not all are but have seen many who should be ashamed as they are supposed to be Health Professionals. They cannot all have a medical problem. Perhaps patients are to blame leaving them chocolates as a thank you, have seen some nurses grabbing handfuls and stuffing pockets!

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 521.

    There are many reasons why some people are overweight - not all of them are overeating. Thyroid problems are not a result of lifestyle, nor is type 1 diabetes. Both can cause people to carry more weight than our current ideal body images. We risk creating a culture of "fattism" and marginalising those who don't fit, adding to the misery of poor body image and the potential for eating disorders.

 

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