Almost half the population of Britain will be clinically obese within 30 years

Almost half the population of Britain – and one in four people on the planet – will be clinically obese within 30 years, warns new research.

If current trends continue, the study suggests that obesity will rise from 32 per cent in the UK today to 48 per cent in 2045, while diabetes levels will rise from 10.2 per cent to 12.6 per cent, a 28 per cent rise.

To stabilise UK diabetes rates at 10 per cent, researchers say obesity prevalence must fall from 32 per cent to 24 per cent.

The study forecasts that almost a quarter of the world’s population will be obese by 2045 – and one in eight will have type 2 diabetes

New research from various cities around the globe, shows 22 per cent of the people on Earth will be obese by 2045, compared to just 14 per cent last year.

And the study also forecasts that 12 per cent will have type 2 diabetes, compared to nine per cent in 2017.

The research, led by Danish scientists and University College London, also indicates that in order to prevent the prevalence of type 2 diabetes from going above 10 per cent in 2045, global obesity levels must be reduced by 25 per cent.

Population data for all countries in the world were obtained from the Non communicable Disease Risk Factor Collaboration, (a World Health Organisation database.

For each country, the population was divided into age groups. From 2000 to 2014 the population in each age group was divided into body mass index (BMI) categories. For each country and age group, the share of people in each BMI class was projected.

The diabetes risk for each age and BMI group was then applied, allowing estimations of diabetes prevalence for each country each year.

The prevalence for each country was calibrated to match International Diabetes Federation’s regional estimates thereby taking into account differences in way of life, nutrition and genetic disposition for diabetes.

In 2014, the Cities Changing Diabetes programme was launched to accelerate the global fight against urban diabetes. The programme began with eight cities: Copenhagen, Rome, Houston, Johannesburg, Vancouver, Mexico City, Tianjin, and Shanghai.

They have since been joined by a further seven cities: Beijing, Buenos Aires, Hangzhou, Koriyama, Leicester, Mérida and Xiamen.

Part of the programme includes projections of obesity and diabetes based on both current trends and on a global target scenario.

The researchers said that although immediate action will not result in reversing the epidemic of diabetes and obesity quickly, it is essential to begin work now to prevent new cases of obesity and diabetes.

The researchers’ model suggests that, in order to stabilise global diabetes prevalence at 10 per cent, obesity prevalence must fall steadily and in total by around a quarter, from the current level of 14 per cent to just over 10 per cent by 2045.


They said that the forecasts are for the ‘global’ scenario, and individual countries display individual trends and should have their own targets.

The researchers said, for example, that if current trends in the USA continue, obesity will increase from 39 per cent last year to 55 per cent in 2045, and diabetes rates from 14 per cent to 18 per cent.

To keep diabetes rates in the USA stable between 2017 and 2045, obesity must fall from 38 per cent today to 28 per cent.

Dr Alan Moses ,of Novo Nordisk Research and Development in Denmark, said: “These numbers underline the staggering challenge the world will face in the future in terms of numbers of people who are obese, or have type 2 diabetes, or both.

“As well as the medical challenges these people will face, the costs to countries’ health systems will be enormous.

“The global prevalence of obesity and diabetes is projected to increase dramatically unless prevention of obesity is significantly intensified.

“Developing effective global programmes to reduce obesity offer the best opportunity to slow or stabilise the unsustainable prevalence of diabetes.

“The first step must be the recognition of the challenge that obesity presents and the mobilisation of social service and disease prevention resources to slow the progression of these two conditions.”

He added: “Each country is different based on unique genetic, social and environmental conditions which is why there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach that will work. Individual countries must work on the best strategy for them.”

Dr Moses concluded: “Despite the challenge all countries are facing with obesity and diabetes, the tide can be turned.

“But it will take aggressive and coordinated action to reduce obesity and individual cities should play a key role in confronting the issues around obesity, some of which are common to them all and others that are unique to each of them.”

The findings are due to be presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Vienna, Austria.

By Ben Gelblum and Stephen Beech


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