Britain's obesity epidemic is worsening, with three-quarters of men expected to be either obese or overweight by 2030. Men in Britain are already among the fattest in Europe and the number of overweight women could also rise, from 57% to 64%, according to a new report.
Doctors assess weight by using the Body Mass Index (BMI), a calculation based on weight and height. "Overweight" is the term for people with a BMI of 25 to 30; "obesity" for a BMI of more than 30. People with higher BMIs face increased risks including diabetes, strokes, heart disease and some cancers. The report also warns that middle-aged people face the biggest rise in obesity.
The report was conducted by Dr Laura Webber, deputy director for modelling and simulations at the UK Health Forum, working with the World Health Organisation. Citing the fact that people in the Netherlands have much lower levels of obesity, Webber believes part of the problem is the UK's relative lack of regulation in the food industry.
"The UK and Ireland, where obesity prevalence is among the highest, possess unregulated liberal market economies similar to the United States, where the collective actions of big multinational food companies to maximise profit encourages over-consumption," said Webber. "The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Austria possess more regulated market economies."
The National Obesity Forum echo Dr Webber's concerns about the lack of regulation. Spokesman Tam Fry said, "In the main, the fat are getting fatter and to stop the rise we need, at the very least, the regulated markets that countries on mainland Europe enjoy."
Affluence is also believed to be a factor in the growing problem. As people have more disposable income they are more likely to purchase takeaway food like burgers and pizza. In Romania, only 10% of women will be classed as obese by 2030.
The good news is that British men aren't the biggest in Europe - men in the Czech Republic, Poland and Spain fare worse and the country with the biggest problem is Ireland, where it's estimated 90% of people will have an unhealthy weight by 2030.