More than seven million new cases of diabetes, cancer, stroke and heart disease will occur in the next 20 years due to people being too fat, a coalition has warned.
The Obesity Health Alliance, whose members include the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, the Jamie Oliver Food Foundation and Cancer Research UK, said the “worrying trend” of rising obesity is putting the nation’s health at risk.
Its report suggests more than 7.6 million new cases of disease linked to being overweight or obese will be diagnosed in the UK during the next 20 years. This includes 4.62 million cases of Type 2 diabetes, 1.63 million cases of coronary heart disease, 680,000 cases of stroke and 670,000 new cases of cancer.
Current predictions are that 76 per cent of men and 69 per cent of women will be overweight or obese by 2035 – around 40 million adults in the UK.
At the moment, three out of ten adults are obese, but this is set to rise to around four in ten by 2035. In that year, around 45 per cent of adults in the lowest income bracket will be obese.
The alliance is calling on the UK government to publish its childhood obesity strategy as soon as possible. It has been delayed since last year.
The report says small changes could make a big difference to the nation’s health. Just a 1 per cent shift in the number of people putting on extra weight each year until 2035 could avoid around 77,000 cases of disease, including 45,000 cases of Type 2 diabetes in the year 2035 alone.
It urges the government to restrict junk food advertising on TV before the 9pm watershed, tighten online marketing rules and set targets for industry to lower the amount of sugar and fat in food.
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention and member the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “These numbers are shocking. And it’s difficult to think of the impact this will have on public health and an already strained NHS. Without bold action, the next generation will face more disease and live shorter lives.”
Modi Mwatsama, director of policy and global health at the UK Health Forum and member of the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “This study is a wakeup call for the government and shows a daunting future if no strong action is taken against the obesity epidemic.”