Top doctor says 'normalisation' of obesity killing Brits

Jun 8, 2014

One in 10 deaths are now caused by excess weight, according to a Cambridge University study

Soaring levels of obesity mean that one in 10 deaths in England and Wales are now caused by excess weight, according to a study highlighted by the chief medical officer.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Prof Dame Sally Davies warned that a “normalisation” of being overweight means many people do not even realize that they weigh too much, nor that the extra weight could shorten their life.

A University of Cambridge study predicts that next year between 40,000 and 53,000 deaths in England and Wales will be attributable to excess weight. These will include more than three quarters of diabetic deaths and one quarter of deaths from heart disease.

Dame Sally argues that the problems start early in life. She says that when children first join school, one in 10 is already obese. By the time they leave primary school, she adds, the number has grown to one in five.

Calling on parents and teachers to address this trend, she writes: “Simple changes to diet and exercise can make such a difference.”

She also warns that the trend will cause an increasing strain on the UK economy. “The latest estimate of the cost to the NHS of overweight or obesity-related conditions is £5.1 billion each year and there is a great cost to society and the wider economy,” she writes.

Sign up for our daily newsletter