Simon Stevens, NHS England's chief executive, has said that obesity is poised to cause a huge rise in avoidable illness and disability, at the annual PHE conference.
Mr Stevens said: 'Obesity is the new smoking, and it represents a slow-motion car crash in terms of avoidable illness and rising health care costs. If as a nation we keep piling on the pounds around the waistline, we'll be piling on the pounds in terms of future taxes needed just to keep the NHS afloat.'
His speech highlighted the fact that almost 20 per cent of secondary school children are obese, along with a quarter of adults, a 10 per cent increase from twenty years ago. The charity Diabetes UK predicts that the resulting increase in type 2 diabetes could cost the NHS £9 billion a year.
Next month, NHS England will produce a 'Five year Forward View' aimed at tackling the obesity issue. Some of proposals include a shift in investment towards preventative programmes, incentives for NHS staff to keep healthy to set an example to the public and devolution of powers to local councils to make decisions on fast food, alcohol and tobacco to suit their areas.
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