The analysis carried out by Cancer Research UK shows that 70% of millennials- those born between 1980 and the mid 90’s will be heavily overweight or obese between the ages of 35 to 45 years old.
The data shows that people are unaware of the increased risk that obesity can cause to the individual and cancers.
Sputnik spoke to Paul Gateley, a professor of exercise and obesity at Leeds Beckett University, about the research and what more needs to be done to improve obesity rates.
Sputnik: Are you surprised by the latest figures on millennial obesity rates?
Paul Gately: I’m not surprised at all; we’ve known for some time that there is significant obesity and overweight rates across all of our age groups. Obviously what’s important about this report is the alignment, its outlining in terms of obesity and cancer, and of course that is of real concern for us because cancer has significant impact on people’s health and life and their families and with obesity being such a big contributor, one would argue we need to be being as proactive as we can be and unfortunately we are not responding accordingly so it’s all well and good telling people to be aware of obesity and its relationship with cancer but actually are government are not taking action on obesity at all, which is very worrying.
Sputnik: What more needs to be done to lower the risk of obesity to therefore lower the risks of cancers?
Paul Gately: So at the moment one in three of our adults are and 2 out of three of our kids don’t have a problem and it’s really important that they get the right information, the right Public Health message.
The sugar levy, the sugar tax that’s introduced are some great measures that will hopefully prevent obesity and being overweight in a large majority of the population and I support all of that.
One of the problems at the moment, is that the government are doing that at the expense of the one in three that one in three kids already have the problem and 2 out of three adults have the problem, so what we need is those people are much more likely to be ones that suffer from cancer and other disease related illnesses.
So we need much more action on them and that’s where the government that’s all governments and councils across the UK are failing on that at the moment, that they’ve got some great working going on in terms of trying to prevent obesity, but actually the efforts to tackle over-weight and obesity and therefore prevent cancers in the future is very limited and I think that’s where we need significant leadership at a national and local level to drive those national & local levels forward to really tackle what is an epidemic.
There are currently 140,000 children in the UK that are so obese that if they were adults they would be immediately eligible for surgery and there is absolutely no support across the country for those children. So that really highlights those children are much more likely to suffer from the complications of obesity which will be cancer, type 2 diabetes, heart disease and yet we have no support in place for them whatsoever and that for me is lacking any vision from government
Sputnik: Do you think needs to be a change in the national diet then to improve the obesity rates?
Paul Gately: I think it’s very difficult to try and change one thing like the diet, one it’s very difficult to change a national diet and national set of preferences. There is some great work going on that is beginning to do that. We’re seeing great actions from food companies and supermarkets in reducing sugars, we’re seeing progress in that way and that needs to be supported and obviously we need to encourage more of it.
But just changing the diet without thinking of the lifestyle and other activities, without thinking about how we judge overweight and obesity people, without thinking about the mental health side of it. I think we are doing disservice, so diet is one bit of it, but its part of a complex jigsaw; we need to do all the parts of the complex jigsaw rather than just parts.
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