Obesity Is The New Smoking, Warns NHS Chief

In Healthcare, Individual, Industry News by Paul Howell

By 2030, 360,000 people a year will be diagnosed with obesity-related cancers. That’s a staggering 36,800 obesity-related cancer diagnoses per day, approximately four people an hour, one person every 15 minutes.

It’s a reality, the head of NHS England, Simon Stevens, says, that needs to be urgently addressed, otherwise the UK will have a weight-related crisis on its hands comparable to the one being experienced in the US. The UK is already the most obese nation in Western Europe and, after tobacco, obesity is the second biggest cause of preventable cancer.

Experts are worried that the gains being made in reducing smoking rates could be undermined as obesity levels continue to soar.

If current trends continue, weight-related cancer cases will rise 62% over the next decade and more than 100 people a day will be diagnosed with the disease as a result.

“While cancer survival is at a record high, many people don’t yet realise that obesity causes cancer,” said the NHS England chief. “So obesity is the new smoking, and if we continue to pile on the pounds we’re heading for thousands more avoidable cancer deaths every year.”

Stevens also said that the NHS cannot battle the bulge on its own and that families, food manufacturers and the government all need to play their part in helping kerb the expanding waistlines of UK citizens.

Double the number of weight-related cancers in two decades

Back in 2015, a study estimated that around 22,760 cancers a year in the UK were weight-related – making up 6.3% of all cancers. However, by 2030, NHS England predicts there will be 36,800 cases a year caused by obesity and this will reach 40,800 a year by 2040 – almost double the number in two decades.

Being overweight is currently linked to at least 13 cancers, including colorectal, pancreatic and multiple myeloma.

Research by Dr Jennifer Ligibel, from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, shows that for every 5kg (11lb) of weight gained, a woman’s risk of breast cancer is increased by around 6%.

“This is a global problem,” said Dr Ligibel. “At the moment the US has higher levels of obesity but the UK is catching up.”

Meanwhile, experts from the UK and Germany have called for fizzy drinks to be made more expensive in restaurants in an attempt to tackle the childhood obesity crisis.

Having looked at more than 58 different studies, involving more than one million people, the experts concluded that the best way to lower consumption of sugary drinks was to increase the price, promote healthier drinks in stores, ban all sugary pop in schools and use easier-to-understand nutritional labels.

Commenting on the findings, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said that some fizzy drinks contain nearly 17 teaspoons of sugar per 500ml. That’s more than twice the recommended daily allowance for adults in the UK.

Obesity is the new smoking. If people continue to pile on the pounds, then we’re heading for thousands more avoidable cancer deaths every year.

I joined Premier Choice Group as an SME/Corporate Consultant in 2017 and look after the Healthcare & Protection needs of a nationwide portfolio. I began my career in Healthcare and Protection in 1985 with BUPA, before moving on to  Royal & Sun Alliance. In 2002, I became an Intermediary and worked with Private Clients, SME’s and Corporate clients on a local, national and international basis.