A new study has shown that obesity is more dangerous than smoking, and may drastically shorten the lives of millions of people. The Foresight report, written by 250 leading scientists, says that being seriously overweight can reduce life expectancy by about 13 years on average, as compared to smoking that reduces life by an average of 10 years.
The report also cautions that obesity is so big a problem in Britain that it will take at least three decades to reverse its impacts. Sixty per cent of men, 50 per cent of women, and 25 per cent of children in the UK will be clinically obese by 2050 if the current trends continue, say the researchers.
According to them, its effects on the nation's health will be devastating with an expected 70 per cent rise in type 2 diabetes, 30 per cent rise in strokes, and a 20 per cent increase in coronary disease. They say that the rates of certain cancers will also rise.
The researchers also reckon that the associated chronic health problems will cost an extra 45.5-billion pounds a year, more than half the amount of money that goes into the entire NHS presently. The study also highlighted that the majority of adults in the country are already overweight, and that being overweight is now seen as "normal".
The researchers say that with easy availability of cheap unhealthy food and people's reliance on luxury life, it has become almost impossible for many to avoid putting on weight. "We must fight the notion that the current obesity epidemic arises from individual over-indulgence or laziness alone. We live in a consumer society which encourages us to eat.
We have a sedentary lifestyle. It's an environment which means that if we just behave normally we will become obese. We may only put on a bit of weight a day but there are 365 days in the year," the Daily Mail quoted lead author Professor David King, the Government's chief scientific adviser, as saying.
"This will need a major culture change and a long-term commitment from government. The obesity issue is getting worse every year and we have not got much time to act," he added.
The Foresight report also states that the availability of unhealthy food and drink should be controlled, perhaps by restricting advertising or certain ingredients in foods such as trans fats.
The scientists are urging the Government to make the problem a priority, perhaps forming an independent committee similar to the one being developed on climate change to bring together government departments and industry.