Storing up problems: the medical case for a slimmer nation

Storing up problems: the medical case for a slimmer nation


Although over half the UK population are now either overweight or obese, many are unaware of the health problems it causes. This report sets out clearly the serious health consequences of excess body weight, citing the latest international research evidence to support its assertions. Not only does excess weight lead to a wide range of debilitating illnesses, such as cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, cancer and osteoarthritis, it also substantially reduces life expectancy.

The report (published in 2004) examines the complex social causes of the obesity 'epidemic' and recommends a range of public health measures, at national and local level, that are needed to address it. These include a sustained public education campaign to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity and healthy eating; the setting of new standards in food labelling and food marketing to encourage consumption of healthier foods; and the promotion of healthy eating and increased physical activity in public institutions such as schools and hospitals.

The widespread nature of this major public health issue demands an effective and comprehensive response across many different fronts. The report is therefore addressed to government, local authorities, health professionals in all disciplines, educators, food manufacturers, retailers and the general public.

The report is available to download as a pdf.


  • Introduction
  • the obesity time bomb
  • Increasing prevalence
  • Social Patterns
  • Effects of nutrition on fetal development
  • How overweight and obesity damage health: the medical case for a slimmer nation
  • Distribution of fat
  • Overweight and obesity in children and young people
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Health consequences
  • Early death
  • Diabetes
  • The effect on the heart
  • Haemostasis
  • Blood lipids
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Breathing abnormalities during sleep
  • Reproductive function
  • Liver function
  • Gallstones
  • Cancer
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Other medical complications and conditions
  • Financial costs and economic consequences
  • References
  • The causes of obesity; addressing the energy balance
  • Why is the health balance wrong?
  • Energy out
  • Energy in
  • Complex factors that influence obesity levels
  • Work and leisure time
  • Town and transport planning
  • Food production
  • Food marketing
  • Lifestyle messages
  • Health inequalities
  • Getting the balance right
  • Energy out
  • Energy in
  • References

Strategies to prevent obesity

  • Strategies to prevent obesity
  • Principles
  • The challenge
  • Tipping the balance - 'the three E's'
  • Target groups
  • Prevention of obesity at national level
  • Public education and social marketing and retailing
  • Nutritional labelling
  • Promoting 'active transport'
  • Promoting leisure-time physical activity and sport
  • Promoting healthy schools
  • NHS priorities, planning and performance
  • Research and development
  • Prevention programmes at local level
  • Potential partners
  • Settings approach
  • Examples of local initiatives
  • Sustained investment
  • References
  • Health professionals: tackling overweight and obesity in the clinical setting
  • Setting standards
  • Training
  • References

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Storing up problems: the medical case for a slimmer nation