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“2020health is an important and thoughtful contributor to the health debate”

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP, Chairman, Health Select Committee

 
 

The Mirror Number of people claiming benefits because of obesity DOUBLES and costs taxpayer £54m-a-year

Number of people claiming benefits because of obesity DOUBLES and costs taxpayer £54m-a-year.

Britain's obesity crisis is c­osting the taxpayer £54million a year in benefit payouts, the Sunday People can reveal.

New figures obtained by the Sunday People show welfare payments for claimants with obesity-related illnesses have doubled in five years,.

Almost 12,000 people last year ­received Disability Living Allowance because they have metabolic ­disease – the medical term for a combination of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure.

That’s twice as many as five years ago, when just over 5,500 people with the condition got the allowance.

Yesterday Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum, said: “Successive governments have made life too easy for too many obese people.

“If the obese have a legitimate cause for their fatness – and there may be medical or genetic reasons – benefits should not be denied to them.

“But getting long-term benefits ­simply for over-eating is an insult to society.”

While a handful of DLA claimants have jobs, the vast majority are ­unemployed. Recipients can receive up to £138 a week.

Andy Silvester, from the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s crucial that every one of these claims is investigated to ­ensure it’s necessary.”

Nearly one in five British secondary school pupils and a quarter of adults are obese, costing the NHS about £9billion a year.

Health experts predict that by 2050 the ­figure will have risen to £50billion a year, with almost 66% of the population obese.

Julia Manning, from the think tank 2020health, said: “This obesity crisis in the West is a far worse health catastrophe than Ebola but there has been no government urgent action, even though we see the benefits bill spiralling.”

But Jill Tipping of the obesity support charity HOOP UK said: “Obese people have an addiction to food. It’s an illness.”

A Department for Work and Pensions spokeswoman said: “Just having a metabolic disease in itself is unlikely to qualify for DLA. But they could qualify if they have a physical or mental disability caused or made worse by it.”