UK facing obesity crisis in 15 years

Europe faces an obesity epidemic but the UK isn't the worst country, according to projections. Picture: Getty

Europe faces an obesity epidemic but the UK isn't the worst country, according to projections. Picture: Getty

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THE UK is facing an obesity epidemic with two out of three women and three out of four men predicted to be overweight by 2030.

World Health Organistaion (WHO) projections are warning a third of British women (33 per cent) will be clinically obese in 2030, compared with 26 per cent in 2010.

The forecasts also suggest 64 per cent of UK women will be overweight by 2030, compared with 59 per cent in 2010.

For men, almost three-quarters (74 per cent) will be overweight in 2030 compared with 70 per cent in 2010, while 36 per cent of UK men will be obese in 2030, compared with 26 per cent in 2010.

The WHO projections show Europe will face an crisis of “enormous proportions” within the next 15 years.

They are the work of Dr Laura Webber, of the London-based UK Health Forum, Dr Joao Breda, of WHO’s regional office for Europe in Denmark, and colleagues.

The researchers looked at figures from 53 countries and compared the proportions of being overweight and obesity for both men and women in 2010 with projected levels.

Overweight means all people with a body mass index (BMI) over 25. Obese is defined as people with a BMI over 30.

Other countries face even greater problems. By 2030, almost all Irish adults are projected to be overweight.

For men, 89 per cent are likely to be overweight, and 48 per cent are estimated to be obese by 2030, compared with 74 per cent and 26 per cent respectively in 2010.

For Irish women, 85 per cent are likely to be overweight, and 57 per cent obese in 2030, compared with 57 per cent and 23 per cent in 2010, respectively.

Other countries with projected steep rises in obesity include Greece, Spain, Austria and the Czech Republic.

Even in countries with a traditionally lower prevalence of obesity such as Sweden, obesity rates are predicted to rise sharply. An estimated 26 per cent of Swedish men will be obese by 2030, compared to 14 per cent in 2010, while for women the proportion of obesity will increase from 12 per cent to 22 per cent.

Few countries are forecast to see stable or decreasing overweight and obesity rates.

Dr Webber said: “Policies to reverse this trend are urgently needed. Although there is no silver bullet for tackling the epidemic, governments must do more to restrict unhealthy food marketing and make healthy food more affordable.”

The figures were released at the European Congress on Obesity in Prague.

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