A recent study has revealed that the cost of overweight individuals in the UK has reached a staggering £98 billion.

According to analysis, the weight issue in Britain results in a cost of nearly £100 billion annually. This has led to demands for the government to take action against unhealthy food and encourage the consumption of fresh ingredients.

Henry Dimbleby, the former food advisor for the government, stated that the increasing prevalence of obesity is a severe public health crisis, as evidenced by the continuously rising costs.

According to the Tony Blair Institute, there has been a significant increase in costs from £58bn in 2020 to £98bn. The expenses for those impacted have risen from £45.2bn to £63.1bn per year, while costs for the NHS have also risen from £10.8bn to £19.2bn. These findings were determined through analysis conducted by Frontier Economics on behalf of the thinktank.

The most significant increase in proportion was seen in the overall costs to society. These have significantly risen from £2.1bn to £15.6bn, which is a sevenfold increase. The majority of this increase is due to lost productivity as a record number of 2.4 million individuals are unable to work due to being overweight or living with obesity.

The cost has increased from Frontier’s previous analysis to the current one because the latter takes into account the value of health lost from illness or weight-related diseases.

According to Dimbleby, Rishi Sunak is not focused on addressing obesity and has made the mistake of prioritizing the elimination of smoking over promoting healthier diets. In 2020, Dimbleby released a report commissioned by the government that proposes significant changes to the way Britain approaches food consumption and reduces reliance on foods known to contribute to serious health issues.

Dimbleby stated at a nutrition conference on Monday that the prime minister appears to prioritize addressing the issue of smoking, which he personally views as negative, over tackling the problem of unhealthy food consumption. This may be due to his preference for drinking Coke.

Leon restaurant chain’s co-founder, Dimbleby, stated that food is the primary factor for three out of the four major illnesses preventing 2.4 million people from working. These illnesses include type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and musculoskeletal conditions, and they also worsen mental health.

Dimbleby is urging the government to take action on dietary habits, citing that British individuals spend a larger amount on confectionery (totaling £3.9 billion annually) compared to fruits and vegetables (totaling £2.2 billion). He also points out that 85% of the food being consumed would not meet the standards set by the World Health Organization for being marketed towards children.

To improve overall health and break the habit of consuming unhealthy foods, individuals should aim to increase their intake of fruits and vegetables by 30%, fiber by 50%, and decrease consumption of fatty, salty, or sugary foods by 25%. The speaker also called for government officials to implement a country-wide initiative to educate students on cooking, bridging the gap between those who can cook from scratch and those who cannot, and decreasing reliance on pre-made meals.

Approximately 66% of adults are considered to be overweight or obese. Dimbleby stated that using weight loss medications to address type 2 diabetes is not the most effective solution, and instead, the government should focus on regulating the food industry and encouraging consumption of fresh, healthy food. He also stated that it is concerning to think that up to one-third of the British population may end up relying on drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy.

Katharine Jenner, the head of the Obesity Health Alliance, stated that the significant rise in expenses to £98bn, which now includes the value of lost health due to sickness and disease, is especially notable as it occurred while the government had a plan in place to tackle obesity – but failed to put it into action.

In the past three decades, 50% of people were struggling with being overweight or obese. Currently, that number has risen to two-thirds of the population. During this time, our food environment has drastically transformed into one that promotes obesity. Our genetics have not changed, but we are constantly exposed to unhealthy food options, whether it be through television, stores, urban areas, or our jobs.

“If we focus solely on treating individuals without addressing the underlying factors that caused their illness, we will end up investing a significant amount of money in the NHS with little to no lasting improvement.”

Source: theguardian.com

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