Obesity treatment could be needed by more people, as research has found that a significant number of overweight individuals are unaware that they have a problem.

Figures from safefood show that 61 per cent of people are carrying excess weight.

However, just 38 per cent are aware that they are overweight or obese.

Martin Higgins, chief executive of the group, commented: "We need to realise what we think of as 'normal' has shifted over the past 20 years; almost 60 per cent of those we surveyed may feel they are a healthy weight but many of those are in fact overweight.

"We must all take a hard look at the facts, measure and know our waist and do something about it today."

It is hoped that the study will help alert people to the fact that being overweight is still unhealthy and women should avoid having a waist size of 32 inches or above, while men should keep their waist under 37 inches to maintain a healthy weight.

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