Obesity crisis means 40 million Brits could be overweight by the year 2035

obeseFuture generations could be faced with severe health problems and shorter lifespans if action is not taken now to tackle an obesity crisis that is threatening to spiral out of control, according to a new report.

The Obesity Health Alliance has estimated that about 40 million adults in the UK could be classed as overweight or obese within 2 decades, with over 7.6 million new cases of disease by 2035. Being overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 29.9, whilst obese is defined as having a BMI of 30 or more.

Widespread weight gain in Brits may result in 4.62 million cases of type 2 diabetes, 1.63 million cases of coronary heart disease, and 670,000 new cases of cancer, warned the new study.

This isn’t even taking into account other major health issues that can arise from piling on the pounds, not including conditions such as high blood pressure (hypertension), liver disease, osteoarthritis, or chronic kidney disease, which can all plain a huge burden on already stretched NHS resources.

Furthermore, becoming obese may then ignite other issues like poor and unhealthy eating, low self-esteem and mental health problems.

However, with swift action, a small change now could make a big difference in the future. Even just a 1% change in the number of people gaining weight every year up until 2035 may avoid around 77,000 cases of disease including 45,000 cases of type 2 diabetes in the year 2035 alone.

Therefore, the Obesity Health Alliance is urging the Government to create a substantial childhood obesity strategy immediately to combat the obesity epidemic. Measures the group want introducing include a restriction on junk food TV advertising prior to the 9pm watershed, tightening online marketing to align with broadcast regulations, as well as setting targets for industry to reduce the amount of sugar and fat in food.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention and member the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “These numbers are shocking. And it’s difficult to think of the impact this will have on public health and an already strained NHS. Without bold action, the next generation will face more disease and live shorter lives.

“Kids are bombarded with advertisements for unhealthy food and if we are to give our children the chance for better and healthier lives, it’s vital the Government’s childhood obesity strategy restricts this kind of marketing.”

Modi Mwatsama, Director of Policy and Global Health at the UK Health Forum and member of the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “This study is a wakeup call for the Government and shows a daunting future if no strong action is taken against the obesity epidemic.

“We can’t expect industry to make changes on their own and people need help making healthier choices. Companies will have to be held accountable by Government. The Government must lead the way by creating a level playing field with independent, regulated targets for reducing the amount of sugar, fat and salt in food. Without Government action, our children face a life of disease and early death.”

According to the European Association for the Study of Obesity, here are some key facts to remember about it:

  • Worldwide obesity has nearly doubled since 1980.
  • In 2008, more than 1.4 billion adults, 20 and older, were overweight. Of these over 200 million men and nearly 300 million women were obese.
  • 35% of adults aged 20 and over were overweight in 2008, and 11% were obese.
  • 65% of the world’s population live in countries where overweight and obesity kills more people than underweight.
  • Overweight and obesity are the fifth leading risk for global deaths. At least 2.8 million adults die each year as a result of being overweight or obese.
  • 44% of the diabetes burden, 23% of the ischaemic heart disease burden and between 7% and 41% of certain cancer burdens are attributable to overweight and obesity.
  • More than 40 million children under the age of five were overweight in 2011.
  • Obesity is preventable.

Obesity will not just happen to somebody overnight. It is something that develops gradually over time, mainly due to poor diet and lifestyle choices.

NHS choices have listed the main dietary pitfalls that cause people to gain weight, which include:

  • Eating large amounts of processed or fast food – that’s high in fat and sugar.
  • Drinking too much alcohol – alcohol contains a lot of calories, and people who drink heavily are often overweight.
  • Dating out a lot – you may be tempted to also have a starter or dessert in a restaurant, and the food can be higher in fat and sugar.
  • Eating larger portions than you need – you may be encouraged to eat too much if your friends or relatives are also eating large portions.
  • Drinking too many sugary drinks – including soft drinks and fruit juice.
  • Comfort eating – if you have low self-esteem or feel depressed, you may eat to make yourself feel better.

Lack of physical activity is a key factor behind obesity, with many using their cars to get around and doing less walking or cycling. Moreover, we are becoming a nation of TV and computer game addicts, instead of getting out and doing regular exercise.

The Department of Health recommends that each week adults should be engaging in at least 150 minutes (2 and a half hours) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking. However, this doesn’t need to be done all in one go. For example, you could exercise for 30 minutes a day for 5 days in the week.

Medical Specialists® Pharmacy are able to provide help for those trying to lose weight, with our fantastic range of obesity treatments such as Xenical and Orlistat. Used in conjunction with a balanced diet and exercise, these treatments are very effective in enabling people to lose weight and regain confidence again.

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