London, July 12 : Almost a quarter of obese Britons fail to recognise that they are overweight and thus put themselves more at risk of heart disease and cancer, says a new survey.
This comparison of Great Britain household surveys from 1999 and 2007 by researchers from the Health Behaviour Research Centre at University College of London revealed that the number of people classified as clinically overweight or obese is on a rise.
According to one of the experts, the results were "disappointing" in light of greater awareness of the problems of obesity among the general public.
Figures suggest that 53 per cent of the population is overweight or obese, as against 43 per cent in 1999.
The scientists said that the reason for the findings could be that with the increase in the population becoming overweight, people's perception of what is "normal" changes.
"The other explanation we put forward was that the media often illustrate articles about overweight with a person with a very high BMI giving the impression that is the size that's important," BBC quoted study leader, Professor Jane Wardle, as saying.
She added: "Half of those with a BMI in the 25 to 30 range did not recognise they were overweight and that's the range we'd like people to start taking action so their weight doesn't get any higher."
However, she added that the positive point of the study was that women who are a healthy weight were now less likely to believe they are overweight, which had been a concern in the past.
"Despite a much greater awareness among the public about the problems of obesity it seems fewer are recognising the problem in themselves," said Dr Ian Campbell, a GP and medical director of Weight Concern.
He added: "I agree this may be due to changing social norms - ie, as more of us become obese, the average weight and average appearance, has become heavier and rounder."
He also suggested that people should be made aware of how they measure themselves.
"Not just with scales as this seems to be easily misunderstood, but with specific waist measurements or body fat analysis," he said.