British people have a poorer understanding of what constitutes obesity than other European countries, according to research from the Association for the Study of Obesity.
The charity claims that, according to its survey, more than a third of obese adults perceive themselves as being just overweight; a fifth of overweight adults think that they are healthy. In France, only 16 per cent of overweight adults perceived themselves as healthy; in Italy, the figure was only 10 per cent.
Britain is the most obese country in Europe. Obesity increases the risk of a number of health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some forms of cancer. That said, obesity is not the only possible cause of type 2 diabetes – the risk is also increased by genetic factors and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome.
The study suggests that not enough is done to promote a healthy understanding of what it means to be overweight, and a greater awareness of the health risks associated with being excessively overweight. Through a greater focus on increasing obesity awareness, it is likely that more people would strive to eat a healthy diet and get plenty of exercise.
Being armed with the necessary information, tackling the obesity problem remains a complex issue. It cannot be easily dismissed on the grounds of personal responsibility; social issues play a part, too. A recent study found that, in the last 20 years, unhealthy processed foods have become cheaper, while fresh fruit and vegetables have become more expensive.
“Obesity is one of the fastest growing threats to the health and well-being of our society,” said Professor Pinki Sahota, deputy chair of The Association for the Study of Obesity.
“And yet, this survey shows that many people still appear to have little understanding of what equals a healthy weight.”
A Department of health spokesperson said: “We are serious about tackling obesity and have given local authorities the power, freedom and funding to make sure they can take action on obesity in their local areas.
“Everyone has a role to play and we are also working with industry to reduce fat, sugar and salt in foods, and our Change4Life campaign is helping consumers make healthier choices.”

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