The UK food industry had reason to be fearful of further government intervention in the sector following the release of the latest government-backed report into obesity.
Findings of the report by the think-tank Foresight suggested that by 2050 60% of adult men, 50% of adult women and about 25% of all children under 16 could be obese.
The financial impact to society attributable to obesity, at current prices, is estimated to become an additional £45.5 billion per year by 2050 with a seven fold increase in NHS costs alone.
Worryingly for the industry the report seemed to play down the role of individual responsibility in the obesity crisis and called for “significant effective action to prevent obesity at a population level”.
“Although personal responsibility plays a crucial part in weight gain, human biology is being overwhelmed by the effects of today’s ‘obesogenic’ environment, with its abundance of energy dense food, motorised transport and sedentary lifestyles. As a result, the people of the UK are inexorably becoming heavier simply by living in the Britain of today,” the report said.
It went on: “The evidence is very clear that policies aimed solely at individuals will be inadequate and that simply increasing the number or type of small scale interventions will not be sufficient to reverse this trend.”
The report said there needed to be wide cultural changes to shift societal values around food and activity.
“This will require a broad set of integrated policies including both population and targeted measures and must necessarily include action not only by government, both central and local, but also action by industry, communities, families and society as a whole,” it concluded.