Record 440,000 hospital admissions due to obesity in 2014/15
There are now more hospital admissions than ever before due to obesity, according to a new report.
There were 440,288 admissions to England's hospitals in 2014/15 where obesity was the main reason for a person being admitted or was a secondary factor.
The figure is the highest on record and is more than 10 times higher than the 40,741 recorded in 2004/5.
Of the 440,288 admissions, 3,357 were for children aged under 16 (compared with just 1,506 in 2004/05).
A further 28,321 admissions were for those aged 16 to 24 and 71,483 were for those in the 25 to 34 age group.
Overall, 149,490 admissions were for men and 290,747 were for women.
Hertfordshire County Council had the most admissions for obesity by region (11,722), followed by Cornwall (11,493) and Lancashire (11,245).
The report, from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), also showed that the proportion of adults now regarded as morbidly obese is growing.
Those who have a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or more has more than tripled since 1993, affecting 2% of men and 4% of women in 2014.
Izzi Seccombe, community well-being spokeswoman for the Local Government Association, which represents councils that have a responsibility for public health, said: "These are extremely worrying figures that illustrate the scale of the challenge we face in the fight against obesity.
"But the problem will only get worse unless we take urgent action, with the number of obese adults in the country forecast to soar by a staggering 73% to 26 million people over the next 20 years.
"The fact that the number of admissions for children has more than doubled since 2004/5 underlines why it is vital that the Government uses its forthcoming childhood obesity strategy to address what is now one of the major health dangers of the 21st century.
"Obesity leads to serious health conditions later on in life, such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes, and is costing the NHS around £5 billion a year.
"Councils have long been calling for action to tackle obesity, such as clearer labelling of sugar content, calorie counts on menus, and sugar reduction in soft drinks. We cannot delay tackling this issue any longer."
The HSCIC report also showed that 58% of women and 65% of men are overweight or obese and, i n 2014/15, more than one in five children in their first year at school, and one in three in Year 6 were obese or overweight.
More than three-quarters of women aged 45 and over were overweight or obese, and women living in deprived areas were 50% more likely to be obese than those in the wealthiest areas.
Obesity prevalence also varied by region, from 21% of adults in London, to 31% in the North East.
The UK is also the 10th fattest country (out of 45), behind the US, Mexico, New Zealand, Hungary, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Lithuania and Chile, the report showed.
The Government's long-awaited strategy to tackle childhood obesity, which was due to be published in the new year, has been delayed.
Shadow public health minister Andrew Gwynne said: "These figures are further proof that the nation's health is going backwards on David Cameron's watch.
"It's utterly unacceptable that, at a time when thousands of children are being admitted to hospital because of their weight, David Cameron has kicked his obesity strategy into the long grass. This dithering by ministers is preventing the urgent action that needs to be taken to get to grips with the country's obesity epidemic.
"The Government needs to urgently rethink this delay and publish its strategy as soon as possible."
Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: "It is difficult to know which of these statistics is the more shaming on successive governments' fruitless attempts to stem what is now dubbed as a national emergency.
"The doubling of children admitted to hospital for obesity in just 10 years signifies that far worse is still to come, yet the current Government is just sitting on its hands and letting it happen.
"In truth, the Department of Health is guilty of dereliction in its duty to safeguard public health and the likelihood is that obesity, and not junior doctors, will sink the NHS."