Only one third of British men are considered to be normal weight, according to the latest statistics from the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Experts warn that the UK obesity crisis is ‘spiraling out of control’, with the number of people being admitted to hospital because of obesity-related problems increasing significantly in recent years.

The finding relates to information gathered in 2011 which paints a rather alarming picture of the obesity problem in the country, indicating that the epidemic has shown no signs of improvement.

The percentage of men with a healthy body mass index (BMI) – of between 18.5 and 25 – went down from 50 percent in 1993 to 34 percent in 2011. Among women the percentage also fell, from 50 percent to 39 percent.

Currently, 65 percent of men and 58 percent of women are classed as either overweight or obese in England.

Obesity is also affecting the country’s youth. Nearly 1 in 10 children attending reception class in 2011-12, aged 4-5 years, were classed as obese. The health consequences associated with childhood obesity were recently published in Frontiers in Endocrinology, where researchers believe it could be responsible for disrupting the timing of puberty as well as leading to a diminished ability to reproduce.

In addition, the authors of the report found that only one third of adults (only 36%) participate in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week. A quarter of all men and women (24% and 29% accordingly) are consuming the recommended daily amount of fresh fruit and vegetables, these figures are lower among children (16% for boys and 20% for girls).

There are considerable health risks associated with obesity. In 2011-12 a total of 11,736 hospital admissions were related to obesity – more than 11 times higher than in 2001.

Obesity is known to be the cause of a range of diseases, such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even several cancers. Just over half of all obese men and 44 percent of obese women have high blood pressure (hypertension). The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that close to a third of coronary heart disease cases are because of obesity or excess weight gain.

Medical complications of obesity
Obesity is one of the leading causes of a range of medical conditions

Some of the underlying factors that can cause obesity include:

  • People using cars as a means of transport instead of walking
  • The high demand for cheap, fatty and high calorie foods
  • More and more people living sedentary lifestyles than in the past – modern leisure activities (such as watching TV or playing video games) involve sitting down rather than being active
  • Young children not getting their recommended daily hours of sleep – which increases their risk of becoming overweight. Partial sleep deprivation is associated with weight gain.

When it comes to treating obesity, there are four goals:

  • Stop further weight gain
  • Lose weight by adjusting one’s calorie intake and exercising
  • Prevent putting the weight back on
  • Improve one’s general state of health

Gastric banding has also been identified as a safe, effective, low-cost, and long-term solution for morbidly obese patients who have not responded to standard treatments. According to a recent study published in the journal Annals of Surgery a significant number of obese patients who underwent gastric bypass surgery were able to lose 26 kilograms on average and keep the weight off for over a decade.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist