Nav: Home

Obese people outnumber smokers two to one

July 02, 2019

New figures from Cancer Research UK show that people who are obese now outnumber people who smoke two to one in the UK*, and excess weight causes more cases of certain cancers than smoking, as the charity urges Government action to tackle obesity.

Almost a third of UK adults are obese** and, while smoking is still the nation's biggest preventable cause of cancer and carries a much higher risk of the disease than obesity, Cancer Research UK's analysis revealed that being overweight or obese trumps smoking as the leading cause of four different types of cancer***.

Excess weight causes around 1,900 more cases of bowel cancer than smoking in the UK each year. The same worrying pattern is true of cancer in the kidneys (1,400 more cases caused by excess weight than by smoking each year in the UK), ovaries (460) and liver (180).

Cancer Research UK launched a nationwide campaign this week to increase awareness of the link between obesity and cancer. Extra body fat sends out signals that can tell cells to divide more often and can cause damage that builds up over time and raises the risk of cancer****.

The campaign compares smoking and obesity to show how policy change can help people form healthier habits, not to compare tobacco with food.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: "As smoking rates fall and obesity rates rise, we can clearly see the impact on a national health crisis when the Government puts policies in place - and when it puts its head in the sand.

"Our children could be a smoke-free generation, but we've hit a devastating record high for childhood obesity*****, and now we need urgent Government intervention to end the epidemic. They still have a chance to save lives.

"Scientists have so far identified that obesity causes 13 types of cancer but the mechanisms aren't fully understood. So further research is needed to find out more about the ways extra body fat can lead to cancer."

The charity wants the Government to act on its ambition to halve childhood obesity rates by 2030 and introduce a 9pm watershed for junk food adverts on TV and online, alongside other measures such as restricting promotional offers on unhealthy food and drinks.

Professor Linda Bauld, Cancer Research UK's prevention expert, commented: "There isn't a silver bullet to reduce obesity, but the huge fall in smoking over the years - partly thanks to advertising and environmental bans - shows that Government-led change works. It was needed to tackle sky-high smoking rates, and now the same is true for obesity.

"The world we live in doesn't make it easy to be healthy and we need Government action to fix that, but people can also make changes themselves; small things like swapping junk food for healthier options and keeping active can all add up to help reduce cancer risk."
-end-
For more information, visit cruk.org/endjunkfoodadstokids.

Notes to editor:

* In the UK there are around 13.4 million non-smoking adults who are obese (body mass index 30+), 6.3 million adult smokers who are not obese, and 1.5 million adults who smoke and are obese - so among UK adults, people who are obese outnumber people who smoke 2:1, based on calculations by the Cancer Intelligence Team at Cancer Research UK

** There are around 14.9 million obese adults in the UK, which is roughly 29% of the adult UK population. The Cancer Intelligence Team at Cancer Research UK calculated this by combining adult (18+) population estimates for 2017 from Office for National Statistics with adult (16+) obesity prevalence data from Health Survey for England 2017, Scottish Health Survey 2017, National Survey for Wales 2017 and Health Survey Northern Ireland 2017

*** Brown, Rumgay et al, 2018: The fraction of cancer attributable to modifiable risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the United Kingdom in 2015. (Overweight defined as body mass index 25+ and obese defined as body mass index 30+)

**** Cancer Research UK can provide more information on the links between obesity and cancer, as well as the research that could explain how and why obesity raises cancer risk, and a range of infographics and video content available for online media outlets

***** NHS Digital statistics for England from National Child Measurement Programme in 2017/18

Cancer Research UK

Related Obesity Articles:

11 years of data add to the evidence for using testosterone therapy to treat obesity, including as an alternative to obesity surgery
New research covering 11 years of data presented at this year's European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) show that, in obese men suffering from hypogonadism (low testosterone), treatment with testosterone injections lowers their weight and improves a wide range of other metabolic parameters.
Overlap between immunology of COVID-19 and obesity could explain the increased risk of death in people living with obesity, and also older patients
Data presented in a special COVID-19 session at the European and International Congress on Obesity (ECOICO 2020) suggests that there are overlaps between the immunological disturbances found in both COVID-19 disease and patients with obesity, which could explain the increased disease severity and mortality risk faced by obese patients, and also elderly patients, who are infected by the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 disease.
New obesity guideline: Address root causes as foundation of obesity management
besity management should focus on outcomes that patients consider to be important, not weight loss alone, and include a holistic approach that addresses the root causes of obesity, according to a new clinical practice guideline published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) http://www.cmaj.ca/lookup/doi/10.1503/cmaj.191707.
Changing the debate around obesity
The UK's National Health Service (NHS) needs to do more to address the ingrained stigma and discrimination faced by people with obesity, says a leading health psychologist.
Study links longer exposure to obesity and earlier development of obesity to increased risk of type 2 diabetes
Cumulative exposure to obesity could be at least as important as actually being obese in terms of risk of developing type 2 diabetes (T2D), concludes new research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes [EASD]).
How much do obesity and addictions overlap?
A large analysis of personality studies has found that people with obesity behave somewhat like people with addictions to alcohol or drugs.
Should obesity be recognized as a disease?
With obesity now affecting almost a third (29%) of the population in England, and expected to rise to 35% by 2030, should we now recognize it as a disease?
Is obesity associated with risk of pediatric MS?
A single-center study of 453 children in Germany with multiple sclerosis (MS) investigated the association of obesity with pediatric MS risk and with the response of first-line therapy in children with MS.
Women with obesity prior to conception are more likely to have children with obesity
A systematic review and meta-analysis identified significantly increased odds of child obesity when mothers have obesity before conception, according to a study published June 11, 2019 in the open-access journal PLOS Medicine by Nicola Heslehurst of Newcastle University in the UK, and colleagues.
Obesity medicine association announces major updates to its adult obesity algorithm
The Obesity Medicine Association (OMA) announced the immediate availability of the 2019 OMA Adult Obesity Algorithm, with new information for clinicians including the relationship between Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease, Diabetes Mellitus, Dyslipidemia, and Cancer; information on investigational Anti-Obesity Pharmacotherapy; treatments for Lipodystrophy; and Pharmacokinetics and Obesity.
More Obesity News and Obesity Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Debbie Millman: Designing Our Lives
From prehistoric cave art to today's social media feeds, to design is to be human. This hour, designer Debbie Millman guides us through a world made and remade–and helps us design our own paths.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#574 State of the Heart
This week we focus on heart disease, heart failure, what blood pressure is and why it's bad when it's high. Host Rachelle Saunders talks with physician, clinical researcher, and writer Haider Warraich about his book "State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease" and the ails of our hearts.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Insomnia Line
Coronasomnia is a not-so-surprising side-effect of the global pandemic. More and more of us are having trouble falling asleep. We wanted to find a way to get inside that nighttime world, to see why people are awake and what they are thinking about. So what'd Radiolab decide to do?  Open up the phone lines and talk to you. We created an insomnia hotline and on this week's experimental episode, we stayed up all night, taking hundreds of calls, spilling secrets, and at long last, watching the sunrise peek through.   This episode was produced by Lulu Miller with Rachael Cusick, Tracie Hunte, Tobin Low, Sarah Qari, Molly Webster, Pat Walters, Shima Oliaee, and Jonny Moens. Want more Radiolab in your life? Sign up for our newsletter! We share our latest favorites: articles, tv shows, funny Youtube videos, chocolate chip cookie recipes, and more. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at Radiolab.org/donate.