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Monday 24th October 2016

Microwaves to blame for obesity?

7th June 2007

A UK scientist has suggested microwaves may be to blame for triggering the UK obesity epidemic.


Professor Jane Wardle, who is professor of clinical psychology at University College London, believes rates of obesity began to rise soon after 1984, which was around the time of the spread of microwave ownership and widespread availability of ready-meals in shops.

Her view was one of three theories as to the rise in obesity being debated at Cheltenham Science Festival.

Experts taking part in the debate were asked to determine when the nation’s waistline began to expand and what the trigger was. Professor Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University in London, argued that the introduction of the supermarket was to blame, “heralding the late 20th century food revolution in which prices have tumbled, car use rocketed, physical activity plummeted.?

Professor Ken Fox, professor of exercise and health science at the University of Bristol, said the current obesity epidemic can be tracked back to the end of the Second World War in 1945, which saw the start of technology replacing physical effort.

In 1980, 8% of women and 6% of men were classified as obese, while in 2004 this was up to 24% of men and women. Levels of child obesity are also up with 16% of children aged two to 15 classed as obese in 2003 compared with 10-12% in 1995.

Dr David Haslam, clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, said all the theories could have contributed to rising levels of obesity and there was no one cause.


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