Britain is facing an obesity crisis with nearly a third of all men classified as obese within the next four years, according to a report out today.
The Department of Health has published figures showing that more than 13 million people will be dangerously overweight by 2010.
It’s estimated that by then there will be around a million obese children and more than 12 million obese adults.This will include 6.7 million obese men, up from 4.3 million in 2003.
Around a fifth of girls and boys aged between two and 15 will be regarded as obese and the costs to the NHS – which currently stands at £1 billion – are also expected to grow.
Commenting on the ‘Forecasting Obesity to 2010’ report, Secretary of State for Health Patricia Hewitt said: ‘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.
‘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 – all small changes that can make big differences.’
With the country facing an obesity time-bomb, Which? believes clear and honest food labelling is also vital if people are to make healthy food choices and tackle the problem.
Which? Food Campaigner Michelle Smyth said: ‘Our research shows that the Food Standards Agency’s traffic light labelling system should be adopted by all manufacturers and retailers. This would allow consumers to make informed and healthy decisions, whichever supermarket they visit or brand they buy.
‘To reverse the tide of obesity, the government also needs to address the underhand marketing techniques which are used to encourage children to eat junk food.
‘With so many mixed messages it’s no wonder that consumers find it difficult to eat healthily. The government has gone some way to improving the situation, particularly with school food, but has much further to go.’