OBESITY rates in the UK have doubled over the past 20 years and 63% of adults are now officially overweight, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
Obesity rates in Britain have grown to 27% of people with a body mass index (BMI) above 30; the average is 19% and overweight people are said to have a BMI between 25 and 30.
The OECD rates Britain as the sixth heaviest and “considerably worse” than other members of a 35-strong group of wealthy nations.
However, the overall health and life expectancy rating of Britons remains average helped by reductions in numbers quitting smoking and a reduction in levels of adult drinking – although high levels of adolescent drunkenness has been red flagged.
The OECD lists the UK as one of five countries suffering from “historically high” rates of obesity since the 1990s – increasing by 92%, compared to 65% in the United States.
“Obesity means higher risk of chronic illnesses, particularly hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases,” the ‘at a Glance’ report said.
And while the OECD recognised campaigns to fight obesity, such as the decision by hospitals in England to ban ‘super-size’ chocolate bars from hospital outlets, and the impending government sugar tax, it said “more could be done”.
A number of OECD nations, such as Australia and Canada, have managed to reduce and stabilise obesity levels in recent years, but Japan remains lowest at 4%.
Britain is, however, doing better at tackling child obesity. Figures show it is stable at 24%, remaining below average over the past decade, at a time when it is increasing rapidly across the rest of Europe.
Although smoking rates are down, harmful alcohol consumption among adolescents continues to be a problem. The OECD found that 30.5% of 15-year-olds admit to having been drunk at least twice in their life. This is considerably higher than the 22% average.