The Future Challenge of Obesity

Without intervening action in the United Kingdom, by 2050, some 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women could be clinically obese, costing the country £45.5 billion a year in obesity-related health costs, writes David King, chief scientific adviser to the United Kingdom’s Foresight Programme. Action needs to be taken to avoid such a massive problem and science is the best medium to inform future public policy decisions.

King describes the 2007 Foresight Programme report as “an innovative methodological break with public health tradition by explicitly linking from the start policy options with epidemiology, physiological science, and modeling.”

It also set the stage for developments described in this Lancet series, which is the result of collaborations over four years between groups from several countries. This author synopsizes the four major series pieces by contributors Boyd Swinburn, Wang, Hall and Gortmaker and their colleagues who present an understanding of the causes, consequences and possible solutions for an overweight and obese word.

“I hope that this work will play a significant role in the upcoming [United Nations] High-level Meeting on Non-communicable Diseases in New York, USA, in September, 2011, and in further national and international policy programmes,” King writes.