The UK could be facing a “doomsday scenario” on obesity, a report by the National Obesity Forum (NOF) claimed yesterday.

However, this report was swiftly rebutted by the UK Health Forum, which took issue with some of the NOF’s conclusions.

Read this: Obesity ‘doomsday’ claims exaggerated: UK Health Forum

The cases of the NOF and the UK Health Forum are below.

What does the NOF say?

  • The National Obesity Forum’s report (PDF), published on 13 January, says: “We are now more than seven years on from the publication of the Foresight Report and, if anything, the situation is now worse than it was in 2007. Without action across the board – from government, business, society and individuals – we might feel fortunate if only 50% of the population is obese and the annual cost is only £50bn in 2050, if current trends continue.”
  • It cites research by the Health & Social Care Information Centre that there has been a “sharp increase” in obesity levels in England during the period 1993 to 2011.
  • It adds: the Health Survey for England (2010) has suggested that 26.1% of adults (classed as being over 16 years of age) are considered obese, with the proportion of adults with a healthy BMI falling to just 30.9% amongst men and 40.4% in women.
  • It also cites research by the University of Glasgow on Scottish and English subjects that found that “nearly 40% of men and women are reaching the point at which they can be described as obese”.
  • It acknowledges findings by the Health & Social Care Information Centre that indicated some improvement in the weight/obesity levels of children.

What does the UK Health Forum say?

  • An unpublished analysis by the UK Health Forum in a forthcoming paper will show that on current trends – based on nearly two decades of data (1993 to 2011) from the Health Survey for England – obesity levels are predicted to be slightly lower than forecast in 2007.
  • While obesity rates continue to rise, they do so at a slightly slower rate than the NOF report implies.
  • UK Health Forum adds: “since the publication of the Foresight report [in 2007], there has been a slight improvement in younger age groups (under 40 years)”
  • It suggests that since 2007 awareness of obesity has increased and that some of the 2007 report’s recommendations have been implemented.

Table showing predicted percentage of overweight and obesity in 21-60 year old males and females in UK population by 2050:

 1993-2004 (Foresight)1993-2011 (UKHF)

Overweight (BMI 25-29.99)

Obesity (BMI≥30)

Overweight (BMI 25-29.99)

Obesity (BMI≥30)











Source: UK Health Forum