UK faced with difficult choices to tackle obesity epidemic says new report

New research 'Obesity in the UK' paints worrying picture of obesity rates in UK

According to the new report 'Obesity in the UK' , the UK is among one of the fattest countries in the EU. In 2010 an estimated 63% of people aged 16 or over in England and 57% in Wales were classified as overweight or obese. In Scotland 63.3% of adults aged 16 to 64 were in that category. While the proportion of overweight people has not changed significantly, the proportion of obese people has increased by 11 percentage points since 1993. Overweight and obesity are steadily spreading in both the adult and the child populations across the UK.

The available data and reports on obesity in the UK paint quite a worrying picture of the progression of the obesity epidemic in the UK population over the coming decades. As the WHO warns of the many impacts of a global obesity epidemic, the UK is faced with difficult choices to tackle its own obesity problem and avert a future where 60% of men and 50% of women are obese.

The direct and indirect costs of obesity are high. Across the UK, the estimated direct costs to the NHS of treating overweight and obesity as well as obesity-related illnesses jumped from £479.3m in 1998 to £4.2bn in 2007. The estimated indirect costs of obesity to the UK economy were valued at anywhere between £2.6bn and £15.8bn per year in 2007. The NHS now spends an estimated £50m to £85m per year on bariatric surgery . NHS-funded bariatric procedures in England jumped from 261 in 2000/01 to 8,087 in 2010/11 while 10,831,705 prescription items for drugs for the treatment of obesity were dispensed in England alone between 1999 and 2011, amounting to nearly £420.5m.

The report 'Obesity in the UK' provides a detailed analysis of the obesity issue in the UK. We describe and analyse the initiatives that the UK's central and devolved governments and nongovernmental organisations have launched to try and curb the increase in obesity among the UK population. We also assess, from a commercial point of view, the threats and opportunities posed by the rise in obesity and the various attempts made to combat it.

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