Stat of the day: £32bn

The amount obesity will cost the UK every year by 2050.

by Elizabeth Anderson
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
Britain is the fattest nation in Europe – not the our best accolade, but a trophy we’re nevertheless not likely to pass on any time soon. Apparently, a third of children are overweight or obese, along with two-thirds of adults. And according to a Panorama special by the BBC to be screened this evening, it's expected to cost the UK £32bn a year by the year 2050.  

The programme points out it might be worth following the example of the Danes - whose government will be the first in the world to introduce a tax on junk food (despite the fact that Danish people are among the slimmest in Europe.) Such a ‘fat tax’ in the UK has been championed by the OECD, which recommended that, along with restrictions on junk food advertising and better labelling on foods, increasing the cost of junk food for consumers is the most effective way to tackle to the obesity problem. But the chances of the UK implementing such a tax are (ahem) slim. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley is due to announce his strategy for tackling obesity soon, but doesn’t think a tax is the way to go about it.

So while obesity levels - and the associated health risks - continue to rise in the UK, it doesn’t look like Britain will be giving up the title of Europe’s most obese nation any time soon.  It could be worse though: at least we don’t top the world league table – a position that goes to America, a country where nearly a third of the population are obese.

 

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