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Obesity related deaths increase PDF Print Email
Researchers say there has been a "dramatic rise" in deaths in England in which obesity was a contributory factor.
They said death certificates showed there were 757 obesity related deaths in 2009, compared with 358 in 2000.

The team from the University of Oxford said it is likely that many more deaths had a link to obesity but it was not recorded.

It comes as the Scottish government warned of a "ticking time bomb", saying nearly 40% of Scots could be obese by 2030.

One public health expert said people often did not realise obesity was linked with many other serious conditions.  

The team of researchers said as obesity was rarely listed as the main cause of death, many death certificates would not have highlighted the rise.

The significant increase became apparent when they included contributing causes of death in the analysis.

Other figures recently released by ministers showed more than 190 people under 65 died as a direct result of obesity in 2009 compared with 88 in 2000.

With contributing factors included, there were 757 obesity related deaths in 2009 compared with 358 in 2000.

About 25% of UK adults are now classed as obese, which is thought to cost the NHS more than £3bn a year.

The Scottish government said if things do not change 40% of Scots could be classed as obese by 2030.

Scotland's Public Health Minister Shona Robison is due to launch an anti-obesity strategy soon.

Study leader Professor Michael Goldacre said although the death certificate figures tallied with rises in levels of obesity in the population over the same period, they did not know before the study whether doctors would be recording obesity on death certificates.

"We know for example obesity contributes to heart disease but if someone dies of heart disease you don't necessarily expect doctors to note if they were obese.

"But this shows doctors are increasingly recognising obesity as a cause of death."

He added: "One of the key messages is you can't rely on underlying causes alone - if you don't look at other causes you cannot see what is contributing to disease."

Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said people in the "early stages" of obesity often did not realise how dangerous being overweight could be and their weight commonly "creeps up" without them noticing.

"People do not realise how closely linked it is with serious conditions, such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

"We have to take obesity seriously."