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Obesity crisis

15th October 2007

A new government study has indicated that half the population could be obese within 25 years.

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And health secretary Alan Johnson has warned that the public health threat posed by obesity in the UK is a “potential crisis on the scale of climate change.�

He said the magnitude of the problem was becoming clear for the first time and it was in everybody’s interest to turn things round.

Government ministers are now drawing up a long-term action plan to tackle obesity with the Foresight report indicating that the cost of the “obesity epidemic� in terms of health care provision and lost work hours could reach £45bn a year by 2050.

Professor Klim McPherson of Oxford University, and Tim Marsh of the National Heart Foundation have predicted that within 15 years 86% of men will be overweight and within 20 years, 70% of women.

The health secretary said the study meant that there has be further efforts beyond existing anti-obesity measures to encourage exercise and healthy eating. The government is also due to ask the Food Standards Agency to examine the use of unhealthy fats that have been linked to coronary heart disease, in fast food.

National Obesity Forum chairman Dr Colin Waine said the health threat posed by obesity will impact on society much earlier than climate change.

He said: “We are now in a situation where levels of childhood obesity will lead to the first cut in life expectancy for 200 years. These children are likely to die before their parents.�

 

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