Leading health organisations warn that obesity could cause 7.6 million cases of disease by 2035.
A study by the Obesity Health Alliance predicts that over the next 20 years the UK will see 4.62 million more cases of type 2 diabetes, 1.63 million new cases of coronary heart disease and 670,000 new cases of cancer.
The report, Tipping the scales: why preventing obesity makes economic sense, says that the level of obesity in 2035 would cost the NHS an added £2.5 billion.
The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) is a coalition of more than 30 leading health organisations including the British Medical Association, Royal College of General Practitioners, Royal College of Nursing, Royal Society of Public Health, Faculty of Public Health, Diabetes UK and Cancer Research UK.
If the current trend in obesity continues, 40 million adults in the UK could be overweight or obese by 2035, including 45% of adults in the lowest income bracket.
The study didn’t include several other obesity-related diseases such as hypertension, liver disease or chronic kidney disease, which could also have a toll on public health and NHS resources.
However the study also highlighted how avoidable these results could be.
The study showed that 1% fewer people putting on extra weight each year until 2035, could avoid around 77,000 cases of disease including 45,000 cases of type 2 diabetes in the year 2035 alone.
To facilitate this outcome, the OHA is calling the government to implement a strong strategy to tackle childhood obesity.
The alliance said the strategy should restrict junk food advertising on TV before the watershed and set industry targets to reduce the amount of sugar and fat in food.
Alison Cox, Cancer Research UK’s director of prevention, described the figures as “shocking” and said a turn around would require “bold action”.
She said: “It’s difficult to think of the impact this will have on public health and an already strained NHS.”
“Kids are bombarded with advertisements for unhealthy food and if we are to give our children the chance for better and healthier lives, it’s vital the Government’s childhood obesity strategy restricts this kind of marketing,” she added.
Modi Mwatsama, director of policy and global health at the UK Health Forum, said: “This study is a wakeup call for the Government and shows a daunting future if no strong action is taken against the obesity epidemic.
“We can’t expect industry to make changes on their own and people need help making healthier choices. Companies will have to be held accountable by Government.
“The Government must lead the way by creating a level playing field with independent, regulated targets for reducing the amount of sugar, fat and salt in food.
“Without Government action, our children face a life of disease and early death.”