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Health secretary says obesity is society-wide issue

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Health secretary Alan Johnson has called for a ‘national movement’ to tackle obesity.

In a speech at the Fabian Society this week, Mr Johnson said there was a need for every area of society to join together in the fight against it.

At the Fabian Society Alan Johnson said: ‘Obesity is the biggest health challenge we face.

‘Just as the government has a moral duty to tackle poverty and exclusion, so it also has a duty to address obesity. But this is not a licence to hector and lecture people on how they should spend their lives – not least because this simply won’t work,’ he said.

‘Tackling obesity requires a much broader partnership, not only with families, but with employers, retailers, the leisure industry, the media, local government and the voluntary sector,’ Mr Johnson added. ‘We need a national movement that will bring about a fundamental change in the way we live our lives.’

The Foresight report, published in October 2007, estimated that in 2002 overweight or obese people cost the English economy £7bn in treatment, benefits, loss of earnings and reduced productivity. It estimated that by 2050 this could escalate to £50bn – almost half the NHS annual budget – unless action is taken.

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