THREE-quarters of men in the UK will be overweight or obese by 2030, researchers predict.
A study found that most parts of Europe would see rising numbers of people carrying excessive weight in the next 20 years, including the projection that 74 per cent of UK men will be classed as overweight or obese.
This compares to 44 per cent in Belgium, but is lower that the 80 per cent predicted in Spainand around 90 per cent in
In Scotland currently it is estimated that two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese, compared to just over half in 1995.
The latest projections were presented by researcher Dr Laura Webber from the UK Health Forum, at a congress in Amsterdam.
Being overweight or obese is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) – a calculation based on weight and height – of over 25. Those with a BMI over 30 are classed as obese.
The study, which also included researchers from the World Health Organisation (WHO), found the rate of increase in levels of people being overweight or obese varied between countries.
On obesity levels alone, projected rates for men ranged from 15 per cent in the Netherlands and Belgium to 48 per cent in Ireland. In the UK, 36 per cent of men were forecast to be obese by 2030.
Obesity levels for women the UK in 2030 is forecast to be 33 per cent. Around 27 per cent of adults in Scotland are currently classed as obese.
Dr Webber said: “Our study presents a worrying picture of rising obesity across Europe. Policies to reverse this trend are urgently needed.”
The statistical modelling and forecasts presented in the study were based on trends seen in European countries in recent years.
The researchers said variations between countries in terms of predicted rates of obesity could be due to the effects of “economic positioning” and the “type of market”.
They said: “The UK and Ireland, where obesity prevalence is among the highest, possess unregulated liberal market economies similar to the United States, where the collective actions of big multinational food companies to maximise profit encourages over-consumption.
“The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Austria possess more regulated market economies.”
However, they accepted that many factors were involved in influencing rates of obesity.
Dr Webber said: “Given the complexity of obesity, the United Nations has called for a whole-of-society approach to preventing obesity and related diseases.
“Policies that reduce obesity are necessary to avoid premature mortality and prevent economic strain on already overburdened health systems.
“The WHO has in place strategies that aim to guide countries towards reducing obesity through the promotion of physical activity and healthy diets.”
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “In the main, the fat are getting fatter and to stop the rise we need, at the very least, the regulated markets that countries on mainland Europe enjoy.”