More than a third of adults in the UK will be obese by 2025, according to new analysis.
Around 27% of UK adults were defined as obese in 2014, but estimates from the World Obesity Federation (WOF) have predicted that this will rise to 34% by 2025.
As a result, the bill for treating obesity-related illnesses in the UK could reach £23.4 billion a year by 2025. And it would cost £6 billion in treatment and prevention to reduce the number of adults with obesity by five percentage points over the next nine years.
The WOF urged the government to invest now in obesity treatment, early intervention and prevention in order to save lives and reduce costs.
The federation said if it did nothing, the cost of treating obesity-related diseases, including heart disease, diabetes, liver disease and some types of cancer, could cost a total of £180.2 billion between now and 2025.
The warning comes as experts, published in the Lancet, reported there were 124 million obese children and teenagers worldwide last year – a 10-fold increase over the last 40 years – with the number set to soar.
Researchers from the School of Public Health at Imperial College said if current trends continue, there will be more obese children and adolescents on the planet than moderate or severely underweight youngsters.
The report looked at the weight and BMI for children aged from five to 19, and adults, in 200 countries using data from 1975 and 2016.
They said the biggest increases in obesity were in English-speaking countries, as well as East Asia, the Middle East and North Africa and South Asia.
However, they said children’s BMI has plateaued in high-income countries, perhaps due to government, school and community initiatives. Campaigns to cut the consumption of high energy foods and make fresh fruit and vegetables more affordable could also have helped, the report concluded.
The authors said it was hard to lose weight and keep it off, and that ‘gaining excess weight in childhood and adolescence is likely to lead to lifelong overweight and obesity’.
They warned that childhood obesity is also associated with greater risk and early onset of chronic disorders such as type 2 diabetes.
Obese children and teens can also suffer from ‘adverse psychosocial consequences’, which affects them at school, they warned.
They also called for curbs on marketing junk food to children.
‘Children and adolescents are more susceptible to food marketing than adults, which make reducing children’s exposure to obesogenic foods necessary to protect them from harm.’