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Government must act on obesity

17th October 2007

The largest UK study into obesity to date has said the government must act "radically and dramatically" in order to stop most of the population becoming obese by 2050.

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The report was compiled by the Foresight Programme, with the backing of the government and the help of 250 experts. It highlights the need for government involvement in today's increasingly sedentary culture.

It predicts that by 2050 60% of the male population will be obese. Half of the female population and over a quarter of children and young people will also be obese.

There will be a significant rise in the number of weight-related illnesses, with cases of type 2 diabetes increasing by 70% and stroke by 30%.

In 2002, figures showed that obesity cost almost £7bn for treatment, benefits and loss of earnings. By 2050, if obesity levels rise according to predictions, costs could increase to around £46bn.

Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser said: "There is a danger that the moment to act radically and dramatically will be missed...it is a problem that is getting worse every year."

The report recommends those who are deemed to be at "increased risk" of obesity should be targeted. It also says there should be policies encouraging physical exercise and limits on high-calorie foods.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said a national debate was necessary in order to find the best solution. He said the report showed "individual action alone will not be sufficient."

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said the government's primary target was to cut down the numbers of overweight and obese children to 2000 levels by the year 2020.



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