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3Overweight Britain

Most adults in England are overweight and one in five is obese - and it's costing the economy more than pound;2.5 billion a year, says the public spending watchdog, the National Audit Office. We're officially fatter than most of our European colleagues, with obesity accounting for 30,000 premature deaths a year, mainly due to diabetes, hypertension and heart disease. By 2010 we'll have caught up with the United States, where one in four adults is obese.

In a report issued earlier this year, the NAO says the increase in obesity (which it says occurs when "a person puts on weight to the point that it seiously endangers health") is a combination of increasingly inactive lifestyles and changes in eating patterns. In other words, we're too sedentary - spending up to 26 hours a week watching television - and we're eating too many high-energy, fatty convenience foods.

Obesity is also affecting almost one in 10 children under 11 - the report says more children should walk and cycle to school, with schools co-ordinating supervised walks to overcome safety problems. It also calls for closer co-operation between schools, hospitals and local councils to ensure that children eat healthier food.

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