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 660.

    The food manufacturers need to produce healthy only food, and not junk filled with lots of nasties.

    Also stop putting junk into the cheaper foods as well, and promoting junk foods to kids.

    As for the comments about self control, unfortunately some people are addicted to food, so need our understanding and support and not e ridiculed on here!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 659.

    The day we all follow the advice of the medicos will be a sad one. There will be no money to pay the pensions and look after the old but fit dementia sufferers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 658.

    It would help if we started letting our children, especially girls, enjoy more active play - this goes for the Victor Meldew who phones the council about kids playing ball games as well as the parent who is paranoid about a potential paedophile around every corner; we need a major culture change or we reap what we sow...

  • rate this

    Comment number 657.

    @650. Nebiroth

    By that same argument though you could argue for anyone who has a motorbike and has an accident, or someone who has an accident whilst hiking / running / horse riding / cycling / swimming etc. I mean with that logic anyone who ends up having to get an airlift from a remote location to hospital is a burden. Slippery slope there. Demonise one thing and it will keep going.

  • rate this

    Comment number 656.

    can one of you smug people help? 10 years ago I was a size 8 @ 5' 6". I have always eaten healthily & enjoy sport. I am not lazy.
    My thyroid went wrong & I have piled on the pounds. I do not eat takeaways & have never had a sweet tooth.
    I had tried everything, even NHS gave up. Clearly you have answers.

    Don't be too smug - it could happen to you & its devastating
    We are not all just pigs

  • rate this

    Comment number 655.


    Homemade pizza is so filling and really tasty. I could eat nearly a whole medium dominos pizza if I let myself, but I can only normally manage two slices of homemade mushroom pizza!

  • rate this

    Comment number 654.

    Why does the Beeb have to HYS on this subject?

  • rate this

    Comment number 653.


    You know that KFC you've been looking forward to is gonna make you feel amazing while you're eating it
    Only if you like eating fried slop out of buckets. I'm not a food snob and I don't live in Tonbrdige Wells but that stuff is just disgusting.

  • rate this

    Comment number 652.

    You can buy healthy food for the same price as unhealthy food if you want to !

  • rate this

    Comment number 651.

    This is more reason why obesity-related problems should not be treated on the NHS. Responsible people should not have to suffer due to the gluttony and stupidity of a minority of society. Stop taxing foods, stop this food-fascist nanny state, and maybe fat people will have to develop some will-power and a sense of discipline rather than making people pay for their gastric bypass.

  • rate this

    Comment number 650.

    I have no objection to anyone being as fat as they like. I do, however, object to their expectation that everyone else will pay for the consequences of their over-indulgence via the NHS., which spends vast sums on drugs, surgery, reinforced ambulances and the like; this "nanny will make it better" situation simply exacerbates the problem and is well on the way to bankrupting the health services.

  • rate this

    Comment number 649.

    There is no scientific measure of fat, it's all arbitrary"

    I don't think when you have to call the Fire Brigade out to knock down walls and doorframes so that morbidly obese people can be taken to hospital in specially reinforced ambulances that's "all arbitrary".

  • rate this

    Comment number 648.

    @620.David, I disagree about the less fortunate part, as the perception is that frozen pre-prepared food is cheaper than buying fresh ingredients and making something yourself.

    I do agree Its worth while to keep your kids healthy, but its far too easy (and percieved to be quicker) to do that rather than prepare a healthy meal and sit down with the kids.

    But you need to change perceptions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 647.

    "Doctors to say if your fat or not".. What a joke!

    Have you seen the average doctor they are not always a picture of health themselves

    My last doctor was a right porker.

    And as for the TV news reporters peddling this story...they might be thin but how much wine and alcohol do they consume in trendy bars?

    As I say if your overweight you can loose it...if your born ugly your screwed for life :)

  • rate this

    Comment number 646.

    617.CTM87 "maybe it is not your place to judge?.. You clearly don't understand why it is so difficult"

    I appreciate it can be difficult. "Anyone can change if they really want to but they have to want to, to the point they do something about it".

    Life is full of challenges. I had the opposite problem myself. Do I blame others? No. I did something about it because I really wanted to change.

  • rate this

    Comment number 645.

    I'm 40 something.....I enjoy a nice BigMac, KFC, a few pints and a kebab. Am I over-weight?....nope! Is my blood pressure high?....nope! Do i have high cholesterol?....nope! Do I exercise three times a week, go cycling and workout at the gym....yes! End of story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 644.

    Yet more from the obesity is caused by over-eating paradigm. We're not being told how contreversial this ld stop being convinced by this stuff. One thing that exercise is almost certainly guaranteed to raise is your appetite. More attention needs to eating much less empty calories that do not satisfy hunger for long enough.

  • rate this

    Comment number 643.

    The causes of obesity can be complex. BUT the food industry goes all out to aggressively market processed junk to consumers and much "dietary advice" you hear is food industry misinformation designed to obfuscate the issue, as happened with tobacco for so many years. You will not tackle obesity until the food industry has been called to book.

  • rate this

    Comment number 642.

    Most British people are not obese, just overweight. If you change the way you cook and eat the weight will drop off without dieting which doesn't work. Eat smaller portions, enjoy a weekly treat and cook properly. I lost a little weight just by eating less, I wasn't much overweight but have lost a stone and a half. Also a brisk walk 3 times a week, you will notice a difference in just a month.

  • rate this

    Comment number 641.

    #88: Supermarket labelling is only clear for low-calorie foods, and becomes increasingly confusing as the calories rise, with absurdly small 'portions' listed (1/8th of a small pork pie, anyone?). Put the total pack calories on all packaging by law, and let us work it out, please. They are literally getting away with murder.


Page 17 of 49


More Health stories



BBC © 2014 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.