Professor Sir Muir Gray, an expert in public health at Oxford University, said:
‘The demands of modern-day living are taking their toll on the health of the nation, and it’s those in middle age that are suffering the consequences most, as their health reaches worrying new levels.
‘Busy lives and desk jobs make it difficult to live healthily. But just making a few small changes will have significant benefits to people’s health now and in later life.’
Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies said:
‘With being overweight now the norm in England, lifestyle choices, such as what we eat and drink, are increasingly impacting on health and people’s quality of life. There is no better time for people to start making the changes needed to live a healthier life.’
Obesity is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of above 30, while people higher than 25 are classed as overweight.
A 5ft 6in (1.70m) woman weighing 13st 7lb (86kg) or more would be considered obese, while if she weighed 11st 4lb (72kg) she would be overweight.