Yorkshire’s growing population adds to obesity concerns

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OBESITY levels in the UK are increasing at such an alarming rate that the country will be the fattest in Europe within the next nine years, according to a report published in the Lancet today.

The study by Imperial College London predicts that almost four out of 10 men and women in Britain (38 per cent) will be obese by 2025.

Britain will have the highest proportion of fat women in Europe followed by Ireland (37 per cent) and Malta (34 per cent) and the most fat men along with Ireland and then Lithuania (36 per cent).

An even higher proportion of American women (43 per cent) and men (45 per cent) are predicted to be obese in 2025.

A survey in 2014 revealed that obesity is reaching epidemic proportions across much of Yorkshire, with 67.9 per cent of people in North Yorkshire overweight, the third highest in the country.

Doncaster (74.4 per cent) is the second most overweight local authority in the UK, closely followed by Ryedale (73.7 per cent).

Currently the UK has the third highest average Body Mass Index in Europe for women, and the tenth highest for men.

Europe’s fattest women are in Moldova with the slimmest in Switzerland. Men in Cyprus, Ireland, and Malta are the fattest but Bosnian and Dutch men the slimmest.

In the past 40 years there has been an explosion in the numbers of people that are obese rising from 105m in 1975 to 641m in 2014.

Almost a fifth of the world’s obese adults - 118m - live in just six high-income English-speaking countries - Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, UK, and USA.

More than a quarter - 27.1 per cent or 50m - of the world’s severely obese people also live in these countries.

The findings are published in the Lancet and claim that by 2025 there will be for the first time ever more obese people in the world than underweight.

The study found the age-corrected proportion of obese men has more than tripled from 3.2 per cent to 10.8 per cent and the proportion of obese women has more than doubled from 6.4 per cent to 14.9 per cent since 1975.

At the same time, the proportion of undernourished people fell more modestly-by around a third in both men from 13.8 per cent to 8.8 per cent and women from 14.6 per cent to 9.7 per cent.

If current obesity rates continues, by 2025 roughly a fifth of men (18 per cent) and women (21 per cent) worldwide will be obese, and more than six per cent of men and nine per cent of women will be severely obese.

Professor Majid Ezzati from the School of Public Health said: “Over the past 40 years, we have changed from a world in which underweight prevalence was more than double that of obesity, to one in which more people are obese than underweight.

“If present trends continue, not only will the world not meet the obesity target of halting the rise in the prevalence of obesity at its 2010 level by 2025, but more women will be severely obese than underweight by 2025.

“To avoid an epidemic of severe obesity, new policies that can slow down and stop the worldwide increase in body weight must be implemented quickly and rigorously evaluated, including smart food policies and improved health-care training.”

The study also found women in Singapore, Japan, and a few European countries including Czech Republic, Belgium, France, and Switzerland had virtually no increase in average BMI over the 40 years.