PRESS ASSOCIATION -- Abundant rich food, too little exercise, and lack of will on the part of policymakers could swell the number of obese Britons to a staggering 26 million by 2030, according to the latest forecast.
If current trends continue, the size of the clinically obese population in the UK will increase by 11 million over the next two decades, experts predict.
The resulting extra cost burden on health services coping with obesity-linked problems such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer would be £2 billion per year. This represents an overall increase in health spending of 2%.
In the worst case scenario, almost half of adult men in the UK could be obese by 2030. Obesity prevalence among UK men is forecast to rise from 26% to between 41-48%. The proportion of obese women is predicted to increase from 26% to 35 to 43%.
The figures, published in The Lancet medical journal, were produced by an international team including leading British epidemiologist Professor Klim McPherson, from Oxford University.
In the UK, rising obesity rates were predicted to lead to an extra 668,000 cases of diabetes, 461,000 of heart disease, and 130,000 of cancer over the next 20 years.
Prof McPherson told BBC Breakfast that labelling across food to tell people how many calories there were, and a tax on sugary drinks, would be helpful.
Asked if it was the Government's job to be involved in how people ate and viewed food, he said: "Yes, sure it's the Government's job, because the Government has a responsibility to look after its citizens, and as things are going, people are getting fatter and fatter and you'll become iller and iller."
"At the moment people can't tell very easily what effect it's going to have on their weight, so better labelling would be helpful, tax on sugary drinks would be helpful. Government is doing quite a lot, actually, in respect to obesity, but not enough. The fact is, it's going up still."
Dr Mike Knapton, associate medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: "These predicted figures for obesity and heart disease in the UK are deeply worrying. We need our Government to take the lead and make it easier to be healthier, such as by ensuring children are fully protected from junk food marketing on and off line."
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