Over the past 24 hours, a number of the UK's leading media outlets have published the latest findings from Cancer Research UK that obesity is a cause of several types of cancer.
To make the headline more prominent, the media (the BBC News and The Guardian, to name just two) have stated that obesity is linked to more cases of cancer than smoking.
That being said, the fact that obesity is cancer (s) related, and that obesity is preventable, is causing heated debate among health care professionals.
Cancer Research UK lists the four main cancers linked to obesity in the UK:
Intestines – Of around 42,000 new cases, overweight or obesity 4,800, 2,900 smoke
Kidney – 12,900 total; Overweight or obesity causes 2,900, smoking 1,600
Liver – Total 5,900; Overweight or obesity causes 1,300 cases, smoking 1,200
Ovary – A total of 7,500; Overweight or obesity causes 490 cases per year, smoking 25
Source: National Cancer Unit
Interestingly, smoking rates are falling and obesity rates are rising.
Ireland and the UK share many health problems, concerns and relative sickness rates per capita.
From an Irish perspective these statistics are worrying and, as we have already written, those elected to lead our country need to do more to address the rising obesity rate and related health problems.
If the authors of the report at Cancer Research UK felt compelled to include type 2 diabetes in the mix, the alarm bells would ring much louder. Since it is not cancer, it cannot happen, but obesity and type 2 cancers will cost UK and Irish taxpayers billions, billions of pounds / € in the years to come.
Read our post on Type 2 Diabetes about a large study in Aberdeen that found babies born to mothers who were obese during pregnancy were three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes later in life .
Back to obesity and cancer – NHS England CEO Simon Stevens said: "The NHS cannot win the 'fight against the bulge' on its own.
"Families, food companies, and the government all have their roles to play in order not to copy America's harmful and costly example."
Stevens calls obesity the new smoking. Those of us old enough to remember when people smoked everywhere, from advertisements / sponsorships to the smokers themselves, can only wonder how society is about to stop smoking from bans on ads / sponsorship to a total smoking ban in the workplace and in public has adopted areas.
But look at how long this change took. For years, experts warned of the dangers of passive smoking, and it wasn't until 2004 that Ireland became the first country in the world to ban smoking in the workplace.
Seems like a lifetime ago now.
Will the drawn-out and drawn-out debate and adoption of relevant laws take until obesity – banning vending machines, banning the sale of sugar-based drinks to children, banning the sale of fried foods in school canteens, etc. – the list goes on?