Government announces anti-obesity campaign

The government's announcement of public health minister Caroline Flint's wider role in improving the nation's fitness has received a mixed welcome.

Ms Flint will be working across the government to develop a strategy for improving the nation's health, amid concerns over rising obesity levels.

A government report has warned that a third of men will be obese by 2010 unless serious lifestyle issues are addressed.

According to Ms Flint, "minor changes" in lifestyle would help to make a long-term difference to individuals' health.

"The biggest gains to health and to the economy will be made by encouraging more physical activity among groups of people who don't normally do any," she said.

"We want to help people build physical activity into their daily routines and another approach could be encouraging more active travel."

Reducing the weight of the nation would help to reduce the number of patients seeking obesity treatment, as well as bringing down levels of weight-related illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

A spokesman for Diabetes UK told the BBC: "We're delighted to see the commitment voiced by the government on tackling this huge problem. But we want to see these words turned into actions."

Dr Lesley Walker, director of cancer information at Cancer Research UK, commented: "We know that overweight and obese children are most likely to continue carrying too much weight when they become adults and this will substantially increase their cancer risk as they grow older.

"Education and support are vital components in tackling the alarming rise in obesity in this country," he added.

However, according to the Guardian, former Tory minister Ann Widdecombe said that it was time for the government to stop stating the obvious.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Ms Widdecombe is reported to have said: "It's time that this government woke up to what it can and can't do, set it's priorities properly and started considering the number of people whose needs are immediate and who are being neglected instead of trying to dictate to the nation how it should live our own lives.

"It's time we were all grown up and took responsibility for ourselves," she insisted.

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