Foresight calls on planners to tackle impending obesity crisis

Planning will play a key role in tackling the obesity crisis that threatens to overwhelm health budgets by the middle of the century, leading scientists claimed this week.

Foresight, the government's futures think-tank, warned that if current rates continue almost 60 per cent of the UK population will be obese by 2050. The associated chronic health problems will cost £45.5 billion a year.

Group head and chief scientific adviser to the government Sir David King said: "The environment we live in is out of step with our basic biology and psychology.

"Stocking up on food was key to survival in prehistoric times. But with today's energy-dense cheap foods, labour-saving devices, motorised transport and sedentary work, obesity is rapidly becoming a consequence of modern life."

Foresight called for greater emphasis on "increasing everyday activity through the design of the built environment and transport systems. This includes open spaces, walking routes and cycle lanes in urban areas."

University of East Anglia health professor and Foresight member Peter Kopelman assessed the impact of the study. "It goes to the local planning level. It is important that physical activity is considered in all planning applications," he insisted.

Tackling Obesities: Future Choices is available at

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