Obesity could cost the NHS in England as much as £6.3bn a year by 2015 if no effective action is taken, the government has said.
Figures from the Department of Health (DoH) state that obesity already cost primary care trusts (PCTs) £4.2bn last year.
The figures have come as separate statistics from the charity Diabetes UK have suggested that diabetes alone – a disease closely linked to obesity – is currently swallowing up about a tenth of NHS spending across the UK, or the equivalent of £9bn a year.
The DoH’s calculations were outlined within a toolkit launched by the department for PCTs and local authorities to help them tackle obesity in the community.
Key findings included that fewer than four in 10 adults knew that obesity could lead to heart disease, while just 6% knew about the link between being overweight and cancer.
The government is this autumn launching a campaign called Change4Life, which will be supported by a publicity campaign in January, designed to encourage people to live more healthy lives.
England’s chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson said: “The link between obesity and preventable illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer, is undeniable.
“In England, almost two-thirds of adults and a third of children are either overweight or obese without effective action this could rise to nine in 10 adults and two-thirds of children by 2050,” he added.
The Diabetes UK Silent Assassin report, meanwhile, said one in 10 people in hospital in the UK had diabetes, and 60% of inpatients with diabetes have been admitted as emergencies.
There were currently 2.3 million people diagnosed with the condition in the UK, and it was estimated there would be more than four million people with diabetes (diagnosed and undiagnosed) by 2025, the charity added.