Obesity epidemic will 'take decades to reverse'Scientists blame modern lifestyles

17 October 2007

 

Overweight man's waiste

Britain’s spiralling obesity problem will take at least 30 years to reverse, a new study has predicted.

Scientists have warned that most Britons will be clinically obese by 2050 if current tends continue.

The stark picture of Britain's future is contained in the latest report from the government's Foresight think-tank.

Systemic problem

The report says the majority of UK adults today are overweight and that being overweight is becoming the norm.

It describes the obesity problem as systemic and says that isolated initiatives are futile in tackling the problem.

The report adds that the technological revolution of the 20th century has made weight gain inevitable for most people because our bodies and biological make-up are out of step with our surroundings.

Modern life

Sir David King, the government's Chief Scientific Adviser and head of the Foresight Programme, believes a wholesale change in attitudes towards obesity is required.

He said: ‘Foresight has for the first time drawn together complex evidence to show that we must fight the notion that the current obesity epidemic arises from individual over-indulgence or laziness alone.

‘Personal responsibility is important, but our study shows the problem is much more complicated. It is a wake-up call for the nation, showing that only change across many elements of our society will help us tackle obesity.

‘Stocking up on food was key to survival in prehistoric times, but now with energy dense, cheap foods, labour-saving devices, motorised transport and sedentary work, obesity is rapidly becoming a consequence of modern life.’

Advertising watershed

Which? is now challenging the government to uphold its commitment to go 'further and faster' to tackle obesity by bringing in tougher rules on the promotion of unhealthy foods to children within three months.

Which? chief policy advisor Sue Davies said: 'Today’s findings are a stark warning that tougher action is needed to overcome rocketing obesity levels. Obesity is a complex problem but the solutions currently on the table are not up to the task.

'A government commitment to a 9pm advertising watershed and curbs on non broadcast marketing of unhealthy foods aimed at children would help kick-start the much needed turnaround in levels of childhood obesity.'

To find out more about Which?'s call for an advertising watershed, see our Kids' Food campaign.