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Cost Of Obesity To UK Health Services Revealed

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

New figures out today show, for the first time, the cost of obesity to every Primary Care Trust in England.

The figures set out the cost of diseases related to being overweight or obese in 2007 and how much it will cost at a local level in 2015 if we take no action.

As last years Foresight report highlighted, nationally the cost of being overweight or obese cost the NHS ?4.2 billion in 2007. This could rise to ?6.3 billion in 2015.

The figures are set out in a new 'Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives toolkit: A Toolkit for Developing Local Strategies', which is available to all Primary Care Trusts and Local Authorities to help them tackle obesity in their areas and help their citizens live healthier lives.

The toolkit also gives advice on how local health professionals can support and help people in their areas to eat more healthily and be more active. It also uses research from the up coming Change4Life campaign to give insight into why families and parents find it difficult to live healthy lives.

Insight that the toolkit provides includes:

* parents don't recognise that their children are overweight - just 11.5 per cent of parents with overweight or obese children recognise it;

* parents underestimate how much unhealthy food and convenience food they buy as well as overestimating the amount of activity their children do;

* only 38 per cent of adults know that obesity can lead to heart disease and only 6 per cent know about the link of being overweight to cancer;

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* many families use snacks as rewards, as fillers during times of boredom and to appease conflict;

* parents of older children are more worried about not feeding them enough and the risk of eating disorders such as anorexia; and

* lack of knowledge, confidence and skills is the main barrier which stops parents cooking from scratch.

Change4Life is a new national movement which launches this autumn before a major publicity campaign starts in January. This movement will help people throughout England to live healthier, more active lives.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "Obesity is the biggest health challenge we face - every year 9,000 people die prematurely. And many people simply just don't know that being overweight can lead to major health problems including heart disease and cancer.

"We are leading the world when it comes to facing up to the problem and tackling obesity. From this autumn we are aiming to change the way we all live our lives. The Change4Life campaign will help us all to change the way we eat, the way we exercise and the way we raise our children so we can prevent obesity and related diseases."

The Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson said: "Since I first spoke in my 2002 annual report of 'Obesity: the health time bomb' nothing has changed my mind about the seriousness of this threat to the country's future health.

"The link between obesity and preventable illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer is undeniable. In England almost two-thirds of adults and a third of children are either overweight or obese; without effective action this could rise to nine in ten adults and two-thirds of children by 2050.

"I welcome the 'Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives', toolkit, which will provide Primary Care Trusts and local authorities with detailed support for the best approaches to tackling being overweight and obesity in local areas, and together with the Change4Life national campaign, can help us all live longer, and healthier lives."

Paul Lincoln, Chief Executive of the National Heart Forum, said: "The new toolkit will help to focus minds in PCT's and Local Authorities on effectively preventing and tackling obesities and continue to ensure that England's response is leading edge in terms of world wide efforts."