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How obesity impacts our healthcare

Childhood obesity has Jamie Oliver and middle-aged Brits have Public Health England – but can the NHS survive if we fail to shed the pounds?

Studies suggest that older patients make up for the majority of the NHS’s health expenditure, and by 2030 one in five people in England will be over 65 (House of Lords 2013).  Currently 5% of the UK’s entire health budget (that’s around £6 billion), is being spent on the direct medical costs of conditions related to being overweight or obese.

So it wasn’t surprising when Public Health England recently revealed obesity is one of the biggest health problems facing 40-60-year-olds, with 77% of men and 63% of women classed as overweight or obese. Diabetes among this age group has doubled in the last 20 years with obesity playing a major factor in this.

A study by the University of Glasgow also found that at least a quarter of 60 to 70 year olds in the UK are obese. As their ill health reaches worrying new levels, the NHS continues to feel the strain. Professor Mike Lean from the University of Glasgow comments: “People are growing fatter later in life, with waist sizes rising more persistently than BMI which may indicate increased loss of muscle mass in old age.  The continuing rise of waist circumference in older age groups is evidence of continued body fat accumulation and redistribution into older age, which is a major public health concern.”

Yvonne Taylor was painfully aware she was putting her health at increasing risk as she neared her sixtieth birthday. Read how Yvonne stopped herself becoming a statistic and lost 5 stone, here.