Rising levels of obesity could be linked to nearly 700,000 new cases of cancer in the UK within the next 20 years, a UK report suggests.
The report, from Cancer Research UK and the UK Health Forum, also predicts that the UK’s obesity crisis – almost three in four adults could be overweight or obese by 2035 – could lead to millions of new cases of type 2 diabetes, stroke and coronary heart disease.
However, the report’s authors added that a one per cent reduction in the number of people shifting from the overweight or obese category into the healthy weight category could prevent more than 64,000 cancer cases. Furthermore, it could save the NHS £300 million in 2035 alone.
There are a number of theories why obesity – a key risk factor for type 2 diabetes – is linked to cancer. One of these is that obesity can cause tissue inflammation, increasing the risk of them becoming cancerous; a second is that fat tissue can produce excessive amounts of hormones that can disrupt normal cell growth.
The reports notes that overweight children are most likely to become obese adults, increasing their risk of cancer, type 2 diabetes and other diseases. Cancer Research UK has therefore called for television adverts for some junk food to be banned before 21:00, and a 20p litre tax on sugary drinks. The Government is due to publish its strategy on childhood obesity later this month.
Alison Cox, director of cancer prevention, Cancer Research UK, said: “Obesity will be a huge burden to society and the NHS in the near future. We must act now to combat this threat and we need the Government to restrict the marketing of sugary food to children.
“Kids are bombarded with advertisements for unhealthy food. It’s vital the Government restricts this kind of advertising if we are to give our children the chance for better and healthier lives.
“We need to attack the obesity problem on many fronts and we must act now. Otherwise our children will pay the price and the next generation will have poorer health, face more disease and die earlier.”

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