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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 August, 2004, 08:06 GMT 09:06 UK
Task force aims to fight the fat
By Emma Carson
BBC News Online, East Midlands

Dr Ian Campbell
Dr Campbell says a co-ordinated approach is needed
A Nottingham GP is hoping a new taskforce will stop obesity in the UK from spiralling out of control.

National Obesity Forum president Dr Ian Campbell says the new group will harness a wide range of expertise.

Two thirds of UK adults and 20% of children are overweight or obese. And there are fears the problem could become as bad as it is in the US.

Dr Campbell believes a taskforce would put Britain's increasing weight problem at the top of the health agenda.

The group, which is in its development stages, has a working title of the nutritional and physical activity taskforce.

Its trustees are currently consulting bodies such as the International Obesity Task Force, the National Heart Forum, and Diabetes UK, but Dr Campbell said he hoped it would be up and running by early 2005.

If we don't do something about this the next generation will die before their parents
Virginia Hill, producer of Fat Nation

He told BBC News Online: "We've got a situation where we will soon be as bad as the United States, with as many as 30% - one in three adults - being clinically obese.

"The reason why it's so important to reverse that is because of the diseases that it causes.

"Type two Diabetes is set to double by 2010. Heart disease, although we've become more successful at treating it, is occurring in greater frequency.

"The causes of obesity are many. There is no single, simple cause, there is no single, simple solution.

"We need the support of government to give us teeth."

Dartford MP Howard Stoate, also a GP, said: "Doing nothing is not an option.

"The government cannot hope to tackle this alone. In one way or another it affects everybody and everybody has a role to play."

Children's health

Virginia Hill, producer of Fat Nation, a new BBC series which explores how to tackle being overweight, believes some kind of forum or pressure group "can only do good".

She said: "If we don't do anything about this the next generation will die before their parents.

"Billions of pounds is spent on advertising foods and drinks which aren't good for us, but very little is spent in comparison to get good nutritional advice across to parents and children.

"Most of the parents I've spoken to are very concerned about their children's health and doing the right thing by their kids - they feel they need more information."

Dr Campbell also believes the new taskforce will ultimately save money.

He said: "This is a financial issue because it already costs the government in excess of 3bn a year.

"By turning the problem round and reducing levels of obesity, it may even be that we will reduce those costs - almost in the end actually save money rather than cost money."

Fat Nation - The Big Challenge" begins on 9 September.

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