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Last Updated: Friday, 20 February, 2004, 12:02 GMT
Fat figures wrong admits minister
Eating a burger
The government says it must slim down its obesity figures
A blunder over the number of obese people claiming benefits has prompted a government apology.

Health Minister Lord Warner had said 900,000 claimants of incapacity benefit were obese.

But the Department of Health now says the real figure for England is only 900 people and blamed an "administrative error" for the mistake.

The mistakes means 70,965 is paid out every week in England to obese people - not the 70.9m initially suggested.

Fat tax?

In a statement, officials said: "The department apologises for this error and any difficulties this may have caused.

"The department is taking action through parliamentary channels to rectify the mistake."

The news follows report that the Downing Street Strategy Unit was considering a "fat tax" on unhealthy food.

But Number 10 officials said there were no plans for such a move, although it was worried about the problem of obesity.

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