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Being obese or overweight could cause 7.6 million cases of disease by 2035

20th June 2016

More than 7.6 million new cases of disease linked to being overweight or obese could be diagnosed in the UK during the next 20 years*, according to the Obesity Health Alliance which includes the Institute of Health Visiting.

If the worrying trend in obesity continues, around 40 million adults in the UK could be overweight or obese by 2035**, with 45 percent of adults in the lowest income bracket being obese.

By Mallinaltzin (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Mallinaltzin (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

Over the next two decades, the study predicts an additional 4.62 million cases of type 2 diabetes, 1.63 million cases of coronary heart disease, and 670,000 new cases of cancer.

In 2035 alone, around 440,000 new cases of disease could be caused by being overweight and obese in the UK***.

The study didn’t include several other obesity-related diseases such as hypertension, liver disease, osteoarthritis, or chronic kidney disease which could also have a toll on public health and NHS resources. Becoming obese can also set up a vicious circle of lower self-esteem, poor mental health and more unhealthy eating.

But the future could be less dire, and a small change could make a big difference. A one per cent shift in the number of people putting on extra weight each year until 2035, could avoid around 77,000 cases of disease including 45,000 cases of type 2 diabetes in the year 2035 alone.****.

To tackle the obesity epidemic, the Obesity Health Alliance is calling on the Government to introduce a strong childhood obesity strategy without delay. It must include restricting junk food advertising on TV before the 9pm watershed, as well as setting targets for industry to reduce the amount of sugar and fat in food.

Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention and member the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “These numbers are shocking. And it’s difficult to think of the impact this will have on public health and an already strained NHS. Without bold action, the next generation will face more disease and live shorter lives.

“Kids are bombarded with advertisements for unhealthy food and if we are to give our children the chance for better and healthier lives, it’s vital the Government’s childhood obesity strategy restricts this kind of advertising.”

Modi Mwatsama, Director of Policy and Global Health at the UK Health Forum and member of the Obesity Health Alliance, said: “This study is a wakeup call for the Government and shows a daunting future if no strong action is taken against the obesity epidemic.


“We can’t expect industry to make changes on their own and people need help making healthier choices. Companies will have to be held accountable by Government. The Government must lead the way by creating a level playing field with independent, regulated targets for reducing the amount of sugar, fat and salt in food. Without Government action, our children face a life of disease and early death.”


For media enquiries contact the Obesity Health Alliance on 0203 469 8300.

Notes to editor:

*Tipping the scales: why preventing obesity makes economic sense. Cancer Research UK and UK Health Forum Report. The 7.5 million figure refers to the number of cases of disease and not number of people as one person could have more than one of the diseases included in this report.

** If current trends were to continue, 76% of men and 69% of women could become overweight or obese by 2035. ‘Obese’ is predicted to become the most common weight category (relative to ‘healthy weight’ and ‘overweight’) at some point between 2035 and 2030 for both men and women.

*** About 257,200 new cases of type 2 diabetes, 101,000 new cases of coronary heart disease, 43,600 new cases of stroke, and 38,500 cases of cancer.

**** These results reflect the predicted average obesity prevalence and are not inclusive of error. Margins of error around the estimates increase, the further into the future forecasts are made.  Overweight is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of between 25 and 29.9. Obese is defined as having a BMI of 30 or more.

Table 5: Predicted prevalence of obesity if trends continue, by income quintile (%)

  Obese proportion of population, overall (%) Obese proportion of population, broken down by income quintiles (%)
Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5
Women in 2015 30 37.9 37.8 30.9 27.1 25.3
Women in 2035 41 48.7 48.8 35.9 29.7 37.9
Men in 2015 29 32.1 37.4 34 30.8 29.6
Men in 2035 41 42.1 54.5 46.4 39.5 37.4
Total in 2035 41 45.4 51.6 41.1 37.6 37.6


Note: Figures are in terms of percentages; Q1 – lowest income quintile; Q5 – highest income quintile

OHA press releases

Notes to editor:

  1. The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) is a coalition of over 30 leading health charities, campaign groups and Royal Medical Colleges who have joined together to fight obesity. OHA has produced a joint statement that outlines ten measures that must be implemented to curb the rising tide of obesity and its devastating impact on the public’s health and the NHS’ finances:


  1. The membership of the OHA currently comprises: Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, Action on Sugar, Association for the Study of Obesity, British Association of Sport and Exercise Medicine , British Heart Foundation, British Liver Trust, British Medical Association, British Obesity and Metabolic Surgery Society, British Society of Gastroenterology, Cancer Research UK Children’s Food Campaign, Diabetes UK, Faculty of Public Health, Faculty of Sport and Exercise Medicine, Health Equalities Group, Institute of Health Visiting, Jamie Oliver Food Foundation, National Obesity Forum, Men’s Health Forum, Royal College of Anaesthetists, Royal College of General Practitioners , Royal College of Nursing , Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Royal Society of Public Health, Society for Endocrinology, UK Health Forum, World Cancer Research Fund UK



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