Half of Britons obese ‘could be underestimation’

Picture: Getty
Picture: Getty
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Predictions that half the British population will be obese by 2050 “underestimate” the scale of the health crisis, a report suggests.

According to the National Obesity Forum, the UK is in danger of surpassing predictions of a 2007 report which estimated that 50 per cent of the nation would be obese by 2050.

The “doomsday scenario” set out in the report does not cover the true extent of the problem, it said.

The forum’s latest report calls on health officials to introduce hard-hitting awareness campaigns – similar to those for smoking – to try to stem the problem.

The organisation also called on family doctors to pro-actively discuss weight management with patients. It suggests that GPs should measure children’s height and weight and adults’ waist circumferences as part of any regular routine check-up.

The report states: “It is entirely reasonable to conclude that the determinations of the 2007 Foresight Report (i.e. that half the population might be obese by 2050 at an annual cost of nearly £50 billion), while shocking at the time, may now underestimate the scale of the problem.”

Professor David Haslam, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, 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 – but this goes hand in hand with government leadership and ensuring responsible food and drink manufacturing and retailing.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Government said: “Obesity is complex issue.

“The time adults and children spend in front of screen for leisure has fallen. There are more visits to local leisure services and more people walking or cycling to work.

“But clearly we have more to do and we will continue working to encourage people to adopt healthy habits.”

TV blackout

A crackdown on advertising junk food during children’s programmes on television is needed to tackle Britain’s growing obesity crisis, say scientists.

Two-thirds of adults and one-in-three children are overweight or obese.

Action is needed on prevention and treatment, according to the UK Association for the Study of Obesity which remains “concerned” over “insufficient” action to tackle the problem.