Obesity rate leaps in UK – figures

Posted by Josette Dunn on 7th July 2010

The proportion of the adult population in the UK classified as obese has soared, according to a report by the Office of National Statistics (ONS).The ‘Social Trends’ report, published yesterday (6 July), revealed that in the UK, a quarter of UK adults were obese in 2008, up from 16% in 1994.

Campaigners have placed the blame on food manufacturers for the rising number of people in the UK who are obese.

However, the country’s food industry trade body said manufacturers have “shown leadership” on the issue through the development of recipe changes and improved nutritional information and insisted obesity remains a “highly complex” issue.

“Obesity is dependent on diet and physical activity levels as well as on a number of other factors clearly captured in the Foresight obesity system map and widely studied by academics worldwide,” Barbara Gallani, director of safety and science at the Food and Drink Federation, said.

“The UK food and drink industry shares society’s concerns regarding obesity and diet related diseases and has been helping consumers and employees lead healthier lifestyles. FDF members have shown real leadership in tackling obesity through ground-breaking work to change the recipes of popular foods, improve the nutrition information on retail packs and develop innovative workplace wellbeing schemes,” she said.

Gallani added that recent research carried out by Mintel found that total sales of healthier eating options in some key food and drink categories are now worth GBP8bn (US$12.15bn), and in some areas are growing at twice the rate of the market as a whole.

“As an industry we remain committed to working in genuine partnership with the Government and other stakeholders to keep the momentum going,” Gallani insisted.

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