A "national movement for change" is needed to tackle Britain's growing obesity problem, claims Health Secretary Alan Johnson.
He has called on everyone, from individuals to major supermarkets, to do all they can to help people lead healthier lives.
He says that hectoring and lecturing the public will not work but suggests messages need to be delivered in clear terms. He believes telling parents that many children could have their lives cut short by 11 years due to dangerous levels of fat in their arteries or around their organs would create a response.
Figures show that two thirds of adults and a third of children are either overweight or obese in the UK. This could rise to almost nine in 10 adults and two thirds of children by 2050, putting them at serious risk of diabetes, heart disease and cancer.
Estimates from 2002 show that people who are overweight or obese cost the economy £7 billion in treatment, benefits, loss of earnings and reduced productivity. By 2050, this figure could be GBP50 billion - almost half the NHS's current yearly budget.
More action is needed
“Diabetes UK welcomes Alan Johnson’s national movement to tackle obesity. More action is needed from every strata of society if we are to combat this epidemic. Diabetes UK is pleased to support the government’s movement to combat this crisis and looks forward to working with it now and in the future," said Saranjit Sihota, Head of Policy at Diabetes UK.
“Being overweight and leading a sedentary lifestyle is inextricably linked to Type 2 diabetes. A person’s best protection against developing the condition is to make lifestyle changes. Eating a healthy balanced diet and taking regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can make all the difference.
“Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition and is affecting more and more people in the UK, including more children and young people. If not diagnosed early and managed effectively, it can lead to complications including heart disease, stroke, blindness and amputation.”