Figures released by the Obesity Health Alliance this week predict in excess of 7.6 million new cases of disease linked to being overweight or obese may be diagnosed in the UK over the next 20 years. These figures include predictions of an additional 670,000 new cancer diagnoses.
In terms of the obesity trend in the UK, the Obesity Health Alliance predicts that approximately 40 million adults in the UK could be overweight or obese by 2035. In terms of how this relates to disease, the figures suggest that this would result in an additional 4.62 million cases of Type 2 diabetes, 1.63 million cases of coronary heart disease and 670,000 new cases of cancer.
In 2035 alone, it is proposed that an increase in the proportion of the population that is overweight and obese in keeping with the current trend would mean approximately 257,200 new cases of Type 2 diabetes, 101,000 new cases of coronary heart disease, 43,600 new cases of stroke and 38,500 cases of cancer.
Alongside these figures is a suggestion that just a 1% change in the number of people putting on extra weight each year until 2035 could avoid around 77,000 cases of weight-related disease in 2035 alone.
How could this shift in the weight gain trend be addressed? The Obesity Health Alliance is calling for the introduction of a strong childhood obesity strategy, including restriction of junk food advertising both on the television and online, and setting targets for industry to reduce the amount of sugar and fat in food.
“These numbers are shocking. And it’s difficult to think of the impact this will have on public health and an already strained NHS. Without bold action, the next generation will face more disease and live shorter lives. Kids are bombarded with advertisements for unhealthy food and if we are to give our children the chance for better and healthier lives, it’s vital the Government’s childhood obesity strategy restricts this kind of marketing,” commented Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention and member the Obesity Health Alliance.