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British girls under the age of 20 are the fattest in Europe, says a new study by the medical journal The Lancet. Of the 22 countries that were covered in the study only Greece was on a par with the UK; in both countries 29% of girls were either obese or overweight. The study follows recent research that shows about a quarter of the UK’s adult population to also be obese.
The numbers make alarming reading: in adults over 20 years old, 66% of men and 57% of women were overweight, with 25% of both sexes being obese. Between 1980 and 2014 the number of overweight and obese globally has surged from 657 million to 2.1 billion. That’s 2,100,000,000 or 2.1 to the power of 9 for those mathematicians out there.
The news comes just as the National Institute for Health and Care (NICE) has come in for criticism after suggesting that the NHS could fund millions of overweight slimming classes at the expense of other patients, in particular through a reduction in funding for the treatment of the terminally ill.
In reaching its conclusions, Nice examined the effectiveness of several weight management classes run both by the private and voluntary organisations as well as the state sector, before endorsing classes run by Weight Watchers, Slimming World and Rosemary Conley – the latter company now in administration.
It found that those who were referred by GPs to attend a 12-week course of classes run by the three chains, lost an average of 3% of their body weight, and kept it off for at least one year.
However, Nice did not compare the approach with any other type of diet or weight loss programme, including methods which the public could try for free. That is eating less, exercise sing more and employing a little organisation and/or will power.
By Robert Adam Atkinson