England facing obesity crisis
Nearly a third of men in England will be obese by 2010 if no measures are taken to tackle the problem, a government report warned on Friday.
A quarter of adults are already obese with the level nearly doubling among men since 1993 as the consumption of “energy dense” junk food rises and levels of physical activity fall.
Among children, the report added, the number of obese girls will overtake boys over the next four years if current trends continue.
Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of death and costs the National Health Service 1 billion pounds a year and the wider economy 7 billion pounds annually.
The Health Department report forecast levels of obesity in England by 2010 based on a study of the nation’s health published in 2003.
It showed that on current trends 19 percent of boys and 22 percent of girls will be obese.
That compares with obesity affecting 17 percent of boys and 16 percent of girls just three years ago.
The figures are likely to suggest the government will miss its health target of halting the rise in obesity of under-11s by 2010.
Other trends revealed by the statistics:
—More boys in middle-class (non-manual) households were obese compared to manual.
—In households with two obese parents, one child in four is obese, compared to one in eight where only one parent is obese and one in 20 where neither parent is obese.
“In the old days, the big health challenges were infectious diseases like Typhoid and TB, but these days, our health depends much more on what we do for ourselves than on what the NHS does for us,” said Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt in a statement.
“That’s why each of us needs to think about how we can lead healthier lives.
“It might be as simple as cutting down on the number of take-aways we eat, saying ‘no’ to that extra pint of beer, getting off the bus one stop earlier or walking our children to school.”
In February, a joint report from the Audit Commission, the Healthcare Commission and the National Audit Office said central government needed to show greater clarity and direction in dealing with obesity in children.
On Tuesday, Prime Minister Tony Blair gave Public Health minister Caroline Flint the job of working across government with a brief to get the nation fitter and more active ahead of the 2012 Olympics.
But the Conservatives dismissed her appointment as “minister for fitness” a gimmick, describing the government’s track record on tackling obesity as “woeful”.
Claire Williamson, a scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said obesity was a complex disorder with a range of causes.
But she said the decline in physical activity was a major contributor to the increasing levels of obesity in the country.
“We live in an increasingly ‘obesogenic’ environment which affects us all, with ready access to food and no need to take any exercise due to the availability of the car to get us around and machinery to replace physical labour,” she added.
Tell-a-Friend comments powered by Disqus