England facing obesity crisis by 2010
LONDON, Aug 25: A third of men in England will be obese by 2010 if no measures are taken to tackle the problem, a government report will warn on Friday.
A quarter of adults are already obese with the level nearly doubling among men since 1993 as the consumption of ''energy dense'' junk food rises and levels of physical activity fall.
Obesity is one of the leading preventable causes of death and costs the National Health Service 1 billion pounds a year and the wider economy 7 billion pounds annually.
Last month Prime Minister Tony Blair urged people to take more responsibility for their health as he warned that poor lifestyles were putting a huge financial strain on the health service.
The report will set out forecasts for levels of obesity in England by 2010 based on a study of the nation's health published in 2003.
It will show that on current trends 19 per cent of boys and 22 per cent of girls will be obese, according to media reports.
That compares with obesity affecting 17 per cent of boys and 16 percent of girls just three years ago.
The figures are likely to suggest the government will miss its health target of halting the rise in obesity of under-11s by 2010.
In February, a joint report from the Audit Commission, the Healthcare Commission and the National Audit Office said central government needed to show greater clarity and direction in dealing with obesity in children.
On Tuesday, Blair gave Public Health minister Caroline Flint the job of working across government with a brief to get the nation fitter and more active ahead of the 2012 Olympics.
Flint said people had to build physical activity into their daily routines.
''One in five of all car journeys is less than one mile. If we could continue to encourage more people to travel by bicycle or on foot for these journeys we would overcome traffic congestion and improve health,'' she said.
But Conservatives dismissed her appointment as ''minister for fitness'' a gimmick, describing the government's track record on tackling obesity as ''woeful''.
Claire Williamson, a scientist at the British Nutrition Foundation, said obesity was a complex disorder with a range of causes.
But she said the decline in physical activity was a major contributor to the increasing levels of obesity in the country.
''We live in an increasingly obesogenic' environment which affects us all, with ready access to food and no need to take any exercise due to the availability of the car to get us around and machinery to replace physical labour,'' she said.