The true cost of obesity

PA Photo/JupiterImages Corporation.
PA Photo/JupiterImages Corporation.

Think obesity isn’t your problem? With predictions that half of the UK population will be obese by 2050, it could impact us all - and solving the problem’s going to be a team effort. Abi Jackson reports.

Obesity, and its impact on health, is rarely out of the headlines these days. But if you think it’s something that only overweight people should be concerned about, think again - it’s predicted that 50% of the UK population could be obese by 2050, with a cost just short of £50 billion a year.

Tam Fry, a trustee of the National Obesity Forum (NOF) and chairman of the Child Growth Foundation, thinks the prediction is “frightening - and the loss to the exchequer even more frightening.”

It’s the NHS which will feel the bulk of this bill.

Between 1993 and 2011, obesity rates rose from 13% to 24% in men, and from 16% to 26% for women, and 2011-2012 figures revealed that up to 20% of children are in the obese category. Figures are even higher for people in the ‘overweight’ range - 65% of men and 58% of women - and it’s already costing the National Health Service more than £6 billion annually.

This is largely due to that fact that our rising weight’s matched by stark rises in diseases (many of which are among the most common killers) like heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, including breast, bowel and kidney cancer.