Obesity now seen as normal by society, warns Chief Medical Officer

In her annual report, Dame Sally added that many people did not recognise when they are overweight

Obesity is becoming a norm in society, England’s Chief Medical Officer has warned in her annual report on the state of the nation’s health.

Dame Sally Davies said that too many people ignore the problem of obesity, and claimed that a “sugar tax” may be necessary to encourage people to have healthier diets – advice she gave MPs earlier this month when she said she believed “research will find sugar is addictive”.

“I am increasingly concerned that society may be normalising overweight,” she wrote, citing: “larger mannequins are being introduced into clothes shops; 'size inflation' means that clothes with the same size label have become larger in recent decades; and news stories about overweight often feature pictures of severely obese people, which are unrepresentative of the majority of the overweight population.”

She also claimed that people do not recognise that they have weight problems, with 52 per cent of overweight men and 30 per cent of overweight women believing they are a healthy size, she warned.

Dame Sally added that children are being being put at risk of developing illnesses including diabetes, asthma, musculoskeletal problems and heart disease.

She cited figures showing that between 2006/2007 and 2012/13, 27,860 children every year were found to be severely obese - on or above the 99.6th centile for weight.

The prevalence of the condition is being exacerbated by adults and children consuming more sugar than they should, she said, and explained that a third of added sugar in the diet of 11 to 18-year-olds comes from “easily avoidable sources” such as fizzy drinks, smoothies and fruit juices with added sugar.

Her proposal to introduce a sugar tax clashes with the Government’s approach which involves asking manufacturers and food giants to sign up to voluntary codes with the aim of avoiding legislation on the issue.

“If voluntary efforts fail to deliver then we, as a society, may need to consider the public health benefits that could be derived from regulation such as a 'sugar tax',” she advised in her report.

She also pointed to statistics showing that most people fail to meet the 2.5 hours recommended level of exercise, but found that adults watched an average of 1,648 minutes (27.5 hours) of television per week in 2013.

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: "This report is yet another reminder that we can no longer turn a blind eye to the numbers on the scales.

“It's particularly troubling that around a third of children in the UK are now overweight or obese. Parents, schools and local communities all have a part to play to help kids reduce their risk of heart disease by eating well and keeping active.

Read more: DNA tests show Elvis Presley was prone to obesity and disease
Dentists call for ban on sugary drinks in schools to combat tooth decay
Childhood obesity partly caused by strict parenting, say scientists
Eating fried food is more likely to make you fat if you have 'obesity genes'

“But the Government also needs to protect young hearts by stopping children being bombarded with junk food marketing. By placing a 9pm watershed on TV ads for junk food and regulating marketing tactics used to target kids online they can make it easier for families to eat healthily.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, national director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: “PHE welcome the Chief Medical Officer's report and we share her concerns on the normalisation of obesity.

"Overweight and obesity costs the NHS over £5 billion each year and is entirely preventable. PHE are committed to helping to tackle obesity through a range of approaches that support action on the local environment to make eating less and being more physically active, easier."

Additional reporting by PA

News
people

Actress sees off speculation about her appearance in an amazing way

Arts and Entertainment
Serge Pizzorno of Kasabian and Noel Fielding backstage at the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts
musicKasabian and Noel Fielding attack 'boring' musicians
News
videoWatch Lynda Bellingham's tragic final Loose Women appearance
Arts and Entertainment
The last great picture - Winner 'Black and White' and overall 'Wildlife Photographer of the Year'
art
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
High notes, flat performance: Jake Bugg
music

Review: Despite an uphill climb to see Jake Bugg in action, his performance is notably flat

News
The Putin automaton will go on sale next month in Germany
videoMusical Putin toy showing him annexing Crimea could sell for millions
News
news

Powerful images of strays taken moments before being put down

News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 pose for Children in Need 2001
music
Arts and Entertainment
'Right Here' singer Jess Glynne is nominated for Best Newcomer at the MOBO Awards 2014
musicExclusive: Jess Glynne hits out at 'ridiculous' criticism of white artists nominated for Mobo Awards
Voices
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella
voices

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Brand has written a book of political analysis called Revolution
books

Review: Witty banalities aside, the comedian has an authentic voice

Arts and Entertainment
Separated at birth? Frank Sivero (left) claims The Simpsons based Mafia character Louie on his Goodfellas character
arts + entsFrank Sivero sues Simpsons studio over allegedly basing mobster character on Frank Carbone
News
Carl Bernstein (left) and Bob Woodward (right) with former 'Washington Post' executive editor Ben Bradlee
people

The Washington Post editor helped Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein bring down President Nixon

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Primary Teachers-Northwich area

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Primary Teachers- Northwich Ar...

Year 2 Teacher

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: An extract from the latest...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

HLTA - Higher Level Teaching Assistant

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Day In a Page

Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London