Roughly four in 10 UK adults will be obese by 2040 and around seven in 10 will be overweight, according to a new analysis by Cancer Research UK.

The figures suggest that if current trends continue, roughly 21 million UK adults will be obese and 42 million will be overweight in the next 20 years.

Overweight and obesity increases the risk of at least 13 types of cancer

With the tipping point expected to happen as early as the late 2020s, Cancer Research UK are warning that unless the government takes immediate action, the majority of the population will soon be at increased risk of at least 13 different types of cancer.

Dr Julie Sharp, head of health and patient information, said: “Obesity is a complex issue and the world around us can make it very difficult to keep a healthy weight.

“Government action is key in making sure that the healthy option is readily available and affordable for people and addressing the wider barriers that prevent people from living healthy lives. If these staggering trends continue, obesity will eclipse smoking as the biggest cause of cancer.”

Those in the most deprived areas could suffer the most

The report highlights that those living in the most deprived areas could suffer the most, with estimates from 2019 suggesting that around a third (35%) of this group are obese. This is projected to increase to almost half (46%) by 2040.

In comparison, 22% of people living in the least deprived areas were obese in 2019 and this is estimated to increase to 25%.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK, said: “The report shows a stark and growing difference between obesity rates in those that are least well off and most well off,’ Mitchell added.

“The upcoming Health Disparities White Paper offers the Government a real opportunity to level up the nation, and make sure fewer people hear the devastating words ’you have cancer’.”

“Ministers mustn’t keep kicking the can down the road”

The charity is now urging the government to stick to its commitment to implement restrictions on junk food marketing and volume-based price promotions, which it says is a “key pillar” to its obesity strategy and commitment to tackling health disparities.

“Ministers mustn’t keep kicking the can down the road when it comes to tackling the obesity crisis – delaying measures that will lead to healthier food options.

“I urge them to revisit this decision and take bold action on obesity, the second biggest preventable risk factor for cancer in the UK,” Mitchell added.