UK has made ‘no progress’ on obesity

The UK has made no progress – or is worsening – when it comes to adult obesity and diabetes, a global report on nutrition has found.

Despite initiatives put in place to address obesity, levels of severe obesity in children aged 10 to 11 years have reached their highest point, the 2018 Global Nutrition Report said.

Boys aged five to 19 are now overtaking girls in the UK when it comes to obesity, with a higher percentage in boys recorded from 2004 onwards.

Among adults, obesity in the UK rose from 27.2% in 2015 to 27.8% in 2016.

The report also warns of how the prevalence of anaemia among women of reproductive age in the UK increased from 14% in 2015 to 15.3% in 2016.

Globally, a third (32.8%) of reproductive-age women are anaemic, a condition caused by lack of iron, often because of blood loss or pregnancy.

The report, described as the world’s most comprehensive on nutrition, is in its fifth year, with this the first to also look at diets.

It warns the UK is not consuming enough legumes, whole grain, nuts and seeds, and too much processed meat and sugar-sweetened beverages.

As well as highlighting the impact of malnutrition on health, the report also looks at how it is affecting the social and economic development of countries.

It estimates that malnutrition could cost society up to US $3.5 trillion (£2.7 billion) a year, with the cost of people being overweight and obese alone amounting to US $500 billion (£391 billion).

Corinna Hawkes, co-chairwoman of the report and director of the Centre for Food Policy, said: “The figures call for immediate action.

“Malnutrition is responsible for more ill-health than any other cause. The health consequences of overweight and obesity contribute to an estimated four million deaths globally.

“The uncomfortable question is not so much ‘why are things so bad?’ but ‘why are things not better when we know so much more than before?'”

The report said significant steps are being made to address some aspects of malnutrition, with stunting among children under five years falling from 32.6% in 2000 to 22.2% globally in 2017.