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Last Updated: Wednesday, 11 February, 2004, 05:51 GMT
Obesity plan
Tackling obesity
In 2002, 70% of Britons were obese
A staggering number of Britons are obese which is leading to a severe risk to health according to a report out today

Over half the UK population are either overweight or obese.

And the problem is not unique to adults, obesity in children aged two to four has now reached 9%.

Today's figures are from a report called 'Storing up the Problems' which was written jointly by the Royal College of Physicians, the Faculty of Public Health and the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health.

  • We talked to one of the report's authors Professor Peter Kopelman. He said:
    "We cannot afford obesity and need immediate action."

    Obesity is a serious condition. We are focussing on prevention. If prediction is right, half of us will be obese by 2020. We can't afford this as a nation. We're saying we want a minister in charge who will deliver joined up policies across different departments.

  • We also spoke to Martin Patterson from the Food and Drink Federation and Danuta Krzyzanowska who is in the middle of a weight loss programme.

    They both agreed something needed to be done. They talked about the support that is now available for obese people, and they also discussed the creation of an independant body.

    Concerted action

    Today's report suggests that millions are at risk from health problems related to their weight and calls for 'immediate and concerted action', and a national strategy.

    Its authors want everyone to take responsibility whether at individual, local, community or national level.

    More should also be done to about the cultural and social factors that play a part in obesity.

    Obesity in the UK
    In 2002, 70% of men and 63% of women were obese or overweight
    Obesity in 2-4 year olds almost doubled from 5% to 9% between 1989 and 1998
    In 6-15 year olds trebled from 5% to 16% between 1990 and 2001


    The researchers found that the trend towards being obese was continuing to rise and if it carried on at the present rate then one third of adults would be obese by 2020.

    The report hopes to drive home the message that being overweight restricts body activity, damages health and shortens life.

    Heart disease, joint problems and a risk from stroke are just some of the problems which being overweight can cause.

    The most commonest cause of diabetes - Type 2 - is also linked to obesity.

    But is it right for national organisations, to tell us what we can and can't do? Many see this report as the an example of the nanny state trying to tell us how to live our lives.

    But the report's authors claim obesity leads to a drain on NHS resources and finances - The National Audit Office estimates that this cost amounts to 0.5 billion for the NHS and 2bn to the rest of the wider economy.

  • Tell us what you think - is it right for the government to interfere and tell us whether we're overweight?

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