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UK rates of obesity increased by 92% over two decades

Published on 13/11/17 at 09:42am

A recent report by the OECD shares concerns that the UK’s overall health looks set to face a crisis due to the rising levels of obesity that the country faces.

With 27% of the population being considered obese, this places the UK as the country with the sixth largest population considered obese per capita, from the OECD’s list of 35 wealthy nations. Beyond this, levels of obesity have risen by 92% since the 1990s, which is a faster rate than the nation with the highest proportion of obesity, the US (65%).

Excepting obese individuals, 36% of the general population are considered overweight, which is likely to be linked worsening health outcomes with age.

The OECD report noted that high levels of obesity are likely to cause chronic illnesses, such as hypertension, high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases.

Rising rates of obesity are likely to only add to the pressures faced by the NHS in the years to come. The report noted that, at present, the UK has lower levels of doctors, nurses and hospital beds when compared with other wealthy nations.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “Most countries are facing rising levels of obesity, putting pressure on health and social care systems. While England has the worst rates of adult obesity in western Europe, our plans to tackle this are among the most ambitious.

“We’re working with industry to make food healthier, we’ve produced guidance for councils on planning healthier towns and we’re delivering campaigns encouraging people to choose healthier food and lead healthier lives. It’s taken many years for us to reach this point and change will not happen overnight.”

Some of the measures referenced by Tedstone are the ‘sugar tax’ that will be brought into action in 2018, as well as banning the larger size chocolate bars from hospitals.

In further causes for concern, the report also identified that the UK also suffers from a problematic relationship with alcohol. Though alcohol consumption averaged out at 9.5 litres per adult, above the OECD average of 9 litres, this was an improvement over figures from 2000, when adults averaged 10.4 litres.

It was also observed that 30.5% 15-year olds reported being drunk at least twice in their life, far higher than the 22% average across the OECD.

Ben Hargreaves

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