More than 12 million adults in England will be obese by 2010

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 31 August 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:463

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  1. Adrian O'Dowd
  1. London

    A third of men and more than a quarter of women will be obese by 2010, predicts the “most accurate estimate so far” of the future prevalence of obesity in England.

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    The proportion of men becoming obese will be greater than the proportion of women


    This will mean that more than 12 million adults and one million children will be obese in England within four years if nothing is done to reverse the trend, says a report published by the Department of Health last week.

    The government's report on future obesity prevalence used the most recent data from the 2003-4 Health Survey for England together with other indicators. It found that the proportion of men becoming obese will be greater than the proportion of women.

    The number of obese men in England is predicted to rise from 4.4 million in 2003 to 6.6 million in 2010. The number of obese women will rise from 4.8 million to 6.0 million over the same period.

    Among children between the ages of 2 and 15 years it is expected that the number of obese girls will rise more steeply than the number of obese boys.

    The report, which was commissioned by the health department and compiled by the National Centre for Social Research, also says that 25% of children who live in households in which both parents are obese or overweight will be obese. However, only 5% of children in households where neither parent is overweight or obese will be obese.

    The forecast prevalence of obesity varied widely across regions. Among men it was predicted that the largest increase in obesity would occur in Yorkshire and the Humber, but among women the prevalence of obesity was predicted to fall in some regions, such as London and the South West.

    The health secretary, Patricia Hewitt, said: “These days our health depends much more on what we do for ourselves than on what the NHS does for us. That's why each of us needs to think about how we can lead healthier lives.

    “People need to want to change their lifestyles and take responsibility for their health, before they face problems in later life. Government and the NHS will support people in leading healthier lives, but ultimately it is each individual's choice that counts.”

    Colin Waine, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, said: “We are in danger of raising a generation whose life expectancy will be less than ours. Direct action is needed or there will be a tremendous impact on the health service. Type 2 diabetes is rising at an alarming rate, and the reduction in cardiovascular disease deaths that we have seen could be halted and even reversed.”


    Forecasting Obesity to 2010 is available at

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