Obesity on increase as UK becomes 'healthier'

(First Edition)

GROWING awareness of the importance of healthy eating is going hand in hand with increasing obesity, according to a report published today. Health-conscious people are just as likely to be fat as their 'unhealthy' counterparts, writes David Nicholson-Lord.

A study from the Henley Centre lists confusing food labelling, 'huge' expenditures by industry on advertising unhealthy foods and lack of a strong health education programme as the obstacles to a healthier national diet. Almost half the population also believes that healthy foods are too expensive.

The study, for the supermarket chain Asda, says that the nation is 'more informed about healthy foods than ever before, but is nevertheless getting fatter all the time'. During the 1980s the number of obese adults rose by 50 per cent: more than half of all women over 45 are overweight or obese.

Yet the proportion of health-conscious people rose from 51 per cent of men and 48 per cent of women in 1988 to 57 per cent for both sexes in 1992. They are also more likely to be trying to lose weight.

Henley predicts that this proportion will grow to two-thirds of men and women by the end of the decade, but the nation is unlikely to become markedly thinner.

Health and the Family Diet, The Asda Report 3, Henley Centre.