Rising obesity levels could result in nearly half a million additional heart disease patients in the UK within the next 20 years, research has shown.
The British Heart Foundation (BHF) noted studies published in the Lancet reveal 26 million people in the country could be obese by 2030 - up from the current level of 11 million.
And this, it is argued, may result in 461,000 more people developing heart disease.
With an estimated extra cost to the NHS of £2 billion per year predicted, BHF associate medical director Dr Mike Knapton called on the government to take the lead and "make it easier to be healthier".
He blamed the modern environment for rising obesity, stating: "Culturally, we're reliant on cars, our jobs and leisure activities are increasingly sedentary and we are faced with an abundance of easily available high-energy foods."
Earlier this month, the BHF highlighted the risk of smoking to females in particular, as research showed women with the habit are 25 per cent more likely to develop heart disease than men.