Bri­tish obe­sity rate ris­ing faster than Amer­ica’s

The Daily Telegraph - - News - By Laura Don­nelly HEALTH EDI­TOR

SPI­RALLING obe­sity lev­els have left Bri­tain the sixth fat­test na­tion in the world, with rates ris­ing faster even than those in the US, a new re­port shows.

Anal­y­sis by the Or­gan­i­sa­tion for Eco­nomic Co-op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment (OECD) shows lev­els in the UK have risen by 92 per cent in just over two decades – by far the steep­est rise among coun­tries with an obe­sity prob­lem.

Ex­perts said Bri­tain was “sleep­walk­ing” into a health cri­sis, af­ter ap­ing the US in adopt­ing a “su­per­size” cul­ture, picked up from watch­ing Amer­i­can tele­vi­sion and films.

The fig­ures show 27 per cent of adults in Bri­tain are now obese – a rise from 14 per cent in 1991. In ad­di­tion, 36 per cent are over­weight. It means the UK is now the fat­test na­tion in western Europe, with obe­sity rates twice those of coun­tries such as Italy and Swe­den.

And the study, which tracks 35 in­dus­tri­alised na­tions, shows Bri­tain is now sixth worst for obe­sity across the globe. This is a rise from 10th place since the re­search was car­ried out two years ago, when UK obe­sity rates stood at 24.9 per cent. The new re­port shows the US still tops the obe­sity league ta­bles, with rates of 38.2 per cent, fol­lowed by Mex­ico at 33.3 per cent. But the rise in the UK far out­paces that of any of the na­tions with an obe­sity prob­lem, with a 92 per cent in­crease in obe­sity lev­els since 1991, com­pared with a rise of 65 per cent in the US.

Mark Pear­son, deputy direc­tor of em­ploy­ment, labour and so­cial af­fairs at the OECD, said obe­sity had be­come “the new nor­mal” in Bri­tain. He said: “In the UK we fol­low the lead from across the At­lantic. We are more in­flu­enced by the US than peo­ple living in Italy or other parts of Europe. You don’t need to be an ex­pert to know that in Bri­tain we watch a lot more Amer­i­can TV and movies than in France or Italy.

“But the other part of the prob­lem is we didn’t take it se­ri­ously for many years. We let it get es­tab­lished. It is nor­mal now for peo­ple in Bri­tain to be enor­mously over­weight. They look around and they see this is nor­mal, in a way that you don’t see in other Euro­pean coun­tries.”.

Tam Fry, from the Na­tional Obe­sity Fo­rum, ac­cused min­is­ters of re­peat­edly ig­nor­ing warn­ings that Bri­tain was “sleep­walk­ing into obe­sity”.

“One could weep over the fig­ures, the re­sult of suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments who have, for the last 30 years, done next to noth­ing to tackle obe­sity,” he said.

Caro­line Cerny, from the Obe­sity Health Al­liance, said ac­tion was needed to tackle the prob­lem early, by pro­tect­ing chil­dren from junk food ad­ver­tis­ing.

Dr Ali­son Ted­stone, chief nu­tri­tion­ist at Pub­lic Health Eng­land, said: “While Eng­land has the worst rates of adult obe­sity in western Europe, our plans to tackle this are amongst the most am­bi­tious.”

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