The UK is the ‘fat man’ of Europe. Latest figures from the Health Survey forEngland 2009-11 shows that one quarter of men and women are obese(BMI over 30) and two thirds of adults are obese or overweight (BMI over 25).The National Child Measurement Programme 2011-12 shows that for childrenaged 10-11, one in five are obese and one in three are overweight or obese.In the last 20 years, the number of morbidly obese adults (BMI over 40) hasmore than doubled to over one million UK citizens.The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges represents the views of the vast majorityof the UK’s 220,000 practising doctors. They are united in seeing the epidemicof obesity as the greatest public health crisis facing the UK. The consequencesof obesity include diabetes, heart disease and cancer and people are dyingneedlessly from avoidable diseases. Across all four nations in the UK, doctors want to do what they can to help theoverweight people that they see every day in their clinics and surgeries. Andthey can help – by setting an example, by giving advice on losing weight, bytreating the complications such as diabetes and, in extreme cases, by offeringlife saving surgery.But doctors are also being hindered in their work because of the pressuresaround all of us to eat more and be less active. No-one we met wants to beoverweight. People told us they want help to ‘swim with the tide, not againstthe current’, to make the healthy choice the easy choice.This report does not pretend to have all the answers. But it does say we needtogether to do more, starting right now, before the problem becomes worseand the NHS can no longer cope.We suggest ten ideas that should be considered seriously. They need to beevaluated and, if they don't work, we need to explore other options. There is nosingle simple solution – if there was we wouldn't be in the position we are now.But this is no excuse for us to sit on our hands and do nothing.
Professor Terence Stephenson
Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges