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Last Updated: Monday, 28 April, 2003, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Nurses warn of obesity deaths
Obesity is on the increase
Nurses have called for action to tackle obesity after hearing it will soon overtake smoking as the number one cause of preventable deaths in the UK.

Cancer specialist Dion Smyth told the Royal College of Nursing annual congress in Harrogate that the death toll from obesity would top that from smoking in the next 10-15 years.

Currently in the UK there are around 250,000 smoking-related deaths each year.

But Mr Smyth said obesity was linked with a higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, disability and some cancers.

He said that by 2040 half the British population could be obese if present trends continued - and there were growing numbers of overweight children.

He said: "The half-hearted promotion of well-intentioned but vaguely constructed and poorly funded programmes cannot seriously hope to compete with the slick professionalism of corporate fast food advertising with its media and celebrity endorsement."

Compulsory education on nutrition in schools stopped a decade ago, and so a generation might lack real knowledge of cookery and food values.

He called for more funding for prevention strategies to tackle the problem, and a review of labelling and packaging of junk food so people could make informed choices.

"A nationwide and collaborative strategy of health promotion and disease prevention across all levels of care and community is required to tackle this modern health concern," he said.

The RCN voted overwhelmingly in favour of the resolution.

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