Two thirds of Britons will be overweight or obese by 2025, new figures from the World Obesity Federation suggest.
Within just ten years, seven in ten men and 62 per cent of women will be carrying too much weight, placing a huge health burden on the NHS.
Weight gain is a risk factor for many health problems, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke and some cancers. Obesity and diabetes already costs the UK over £5billion every year which is likely to rise to £50 billion by 2050.
Currently around 66 per cent of men are overweight or obese and 57 per cent of women. However 74 per cent of men will be overweight or obese by 2030 and 64 per cent of women according to new figures.
The figures are in sharp contrast to countries like Belgium, Germany and Finland where the number of overweight or obese people is expected to barely change in the next decade.
In 2011 the World Health Organisation (WHO) set a goal for 2025 of no increase in obesity or diabetes beyond 2010 levels. But no country is set to achieve that target.
The WOF said that the government must act to impose taxes on fatty and sugary foods and make healthy food cheaper. However Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary has ruled out any measures, claiming that the food industry is already voluntarily working to make products more nutritious.
Dr Tim Lobstein, Director of Policy at the World Obesity Federation said ìCommon risk factors such as soft drink consumption and sedentary working environments, have increased, fast food advertising continues and greater numbers of people live in urban environments without access to green spaces.
ìGovernments should take a number of actions to help prevent obesity, including introducing tough regulations to protect children from the marketing of unhealthy food and introducing taxes and subsidies to make healthier food cheaper and unhealthy food more expensive.î
The figures show that within the next 10 years, nearly five million more men and women will become overweight or obese in Britain bringing the total to 36 million. The number of severely obese adults will also rise by 40 per cent from three million people to more than four million.
WOF Professor Walmir Coutinho, said ìThe obesity epidemic has reached virtually every country worldwide, and overweight and obesity levels are set to continue to rise. Governments know the present epidemic is unsustainable and doing nothing is not an option.
They have agreed to tackle obesity and to bring down obesity prevalence to 2010 levels by the year 2025.
ìIf governments hope to achieve the WHO target of keeping obesity at 2010 levels, then the time to act is now.î
Asked about the prospect of missing its target, the World Health Organisation said: “Indeed the rates of overweight and obesity are increasing globally.
ìWHO has not made predictions on what the prevalence of overweight and or obesity may be in 2020 (the next reporting period) or at the final reporting period of 2025 as we can’t assume the rate of increase will continue and we must take into account the changing of global population structures.
“We do not see at this time that the current global target of ‘no increase in obesity’ will be met in adults or adolescents unless urgent focused action to reduce overweight and obesity is taken by countries and other stakeholders.”