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Last Updated: Monday, 22 October 2007, 12:12 GMT 13:12 UK
Diabetes up amid rising obesity
Overweight people
The report highlights the onward march of obesity in England
Rates of obesity and diabetes are rising across England, although people are living longer than ever, government data has revealed.

Obesity rates in England were by 2005 the highest among the 15 member states who made up the EU before enlargement.

But in the same period life expectancy continued to climb. A little girl could expect to live to 81, more than a year and a half longer than a decade before.

However a clear north-south health divide remained.

In all regions from the midlands northwards, life expectancy is significantly shorter than in the regions to the south.

Women in the North East and North West live over two years less than those in the South East and South West, while men live over two and a half years less than their southern contemporaries.

Fat future

In the decade ending in 2005 covered by the report, the proportion of obese men rose by over 40%, although the figures did start to fall slightly in the final year.

The proportion of obese women however rose by almost 35% and showed no signs of slowing. Among children, it was up by over 50%.

Health trends

The figures for children are seen as much more precise than those for adults, as they are based on hard data provided by almost every school in the country, while the adult figures are extrapolated from sample surveys.

This latest report comes on the back of a major study into obesity sponsored by the government, which forecast that the majority of us would be obese by 2050.

Obesity is known to contribute to some health conditions, including type 2 diabetes. Overall rates for diabetes increased from 5.8% of the population to 8.4% between 1998 and 2004.

"Tackling both type 1 and type 2 diabetes must be a priority for the government," said Douglas Smallwood, chief executive of Diabetes UK.

"There are now 2.2 million people in the UK living with the condition and up to a further 750,000 who have type 2 diabetes but don't know it, all of whom are potentially facing years of ill health and reduced life expectancy."

Alcohol woes

Other conditions on the increase include chronic liver disease and cirrhosis. This latest data shows that among females, rates for these diseases have increased above the average of Western Europe.

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Mortality rates from cancer are on the decline, although the outcome still varies according to the specific type of the disease.

And life expectancy is improving for everyone. While a baby girl can now expect to live to 81.2, a baby boy can expect to live to 76.9, nearly 2.5 years longer than ten years previous, according to the 2005 statistics.

Commenting on the report, Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "We are improving much faster in areas such as circulatory disease and cancer than the European average and delivering better treatment to more people than ever.

"But we know there is much more to do."



SEE ALSO
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09 Oct 06 |  Health
Obesity epidemic tops 1.7bn
17 Mar 03 |  Health

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