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Understanding changing BMI distributions in England, their causes and long term consequences

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Obesity is a threat to people’s health and since the 1980’s has been increasing in prevalence almost everywhere. In 2005 the Govt Chief Scientist put obesity high on the long term policy agenda in the Foresight project, designed to anticipate the consequences of such possibly dramatic societal changes. The report, published in 2007, essentially outlined the estimated changes in illness and mortality rates in England and warned that unless we could overcome the inexorable growth in population BMI , the population would be sicker and the extra NHS cost could amount to £50bn pa by 2050. This led to the establishment of the first cross government initiative to tackle obesity anywhere in the world: ‘healthy weight, healthy lives’. Over the last six years, we have continued to refine the obesity micro simulation modelling and have worked with the WHO , OECD, European Commission as well as numerous governments and universities around the world. We now have simulations for over eighty countries. Six years on, the team have rerun the Tackling Obesities simulation to see how the predictions made in 2007 have changed and whether any impact can be attributed to the extensive efforts that have been made in England/UK to ameliorate those trends since 2007. The results will be discussed.

This talk is part of the Bradford Hill seminars at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health series.

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