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Tough action needed on obesity

26th August 2011

Experts have issued a tough new warning over the obesity crisis.


They say action such as taxing junk food is needed by all governments to tackle the problem.

In a series of articles in The Lancet, an international group of researchers said that no country had yet got to grips with the problem.

They fear that without state intervention in the growing obesity epidemic, health systems would have difficulty in coping as obesity-related problems such as diabetes now account for 2-6% of health care costs in most countries.

Researchers also fear that unless action is taken, obesity rates in the UK would rise from 25% to 40% by 2030, costing the NHS an extra £2bn a year.

In the US the rates would rise from one in three people to half the population.

Researchers said governments needed to take a lead, using legislation and direct intervention to create a better environment but also favoured measures such as taxing unhealthy food, curbing junk food advertising, traffic light labelling and school-based education programmes.

Lead researcher and Oxford University expert, Professor Klim McPherson, said: “It is about changing the environment in which people live so they can make healthier choices.”

The Food and Drink Federation said that the industry had already been taking positive steps.

“The Lancet fails to recognise the lengths to which the UK food and drink industry has gone to help improve the health of the nation, particularly in relation to rising obesity levels,” said Terry Jones from the federation.


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