Adults who are moderately overweight face a surprisingly high threat of suffering from a number of serious conditions.
They face a 140% higher risk of Type 2 diabetes compared with a healthy weight, 28% for kidney issues and 15% for heart issues.
The biggest ever study of UK obesity reveals the scale of the problem.
Some 18.5 million British adults are slightly overweight, with a Body Mass Index of 25 to 30.
The average British adult falls firmly within this group, with a BMI of 27.
The increased risk of dangerous sleep apnoea is the same, at 140% higher.
For osteoarthritis it is 34% and asthma 28%.
The landmark study found this group were also 15% more likely to develop angina in a given year and 28% more likely to get chronic kidney disease.
The danger soars for the 12 million classed as either mildly obese or obese, and the 1.6 million morbidly obese.
But those with “just a few pounds to lose” may be shocked at the scale of the threat to their health revealed in unprecedented detail by the study.
Caroline Cerny of the Obesity Health Alliance said: “These findings are hugely worrying.
“Obesity can have serious implications for long-term health, making it all the more vital that we help people be a healthy weight. We need population-wide measures to combat it.”
Population data for England shows 35% of adults are overweight, 23% mildly obese or obese, and 3% morbidly obese.
The mildly obese are more than five times as likely to develop diabetes and nearly six times as likely to suffer sleep apnoea.
For the morbidly obese the risk of Type 2 diabetes soars by 12, of sleep apnoea by 22, and they are 50% more likely to die prematurely.
Prof Nick Finer of healthcare firm Novo Nordisk, which carried out the study, said: “These are phenomenal risk factors.
“Sleep apnoea is not just a bad night’s sleep. As many as a third of traffic accidents may involve a driver with sleep apnoea. It’s a huge problem. The scale of the challenge is daunting for doctors.”
National Obesity Forum chairman Tam Fry said: “The numbers are staggering. We’ve brought it all on ourselves.
“At the turn of the century there were measures suggested to prevent this kind of disaster, but few medical professionals were interested in properly recording adult BMIs.
“[This is] the result and the profession should be ashamed of its error.
“Perhaps now it will be rectified.”
The study’s co-author Dr Christiane Lundegaard Haase said: “This study has direct implications for people’s lives.
“It shows that overweight or obese people are potentially running a great risk for more serious health outcomes.”
The study, looking at data on 2.8 million adults over 18 years, was unveiled at the European Congress on Obesity in Glasgow.
BMI is defined as weight divided by the square of height.
A normal BMI is 18.5 to 25.
The measure has been criticised for not taking into account muscle mass, overall body composition and sex differences.
Expanding pill is full of promise
A diet pill that expands in the stomach to beat hunger has been hailed as a break-through in the UK’s fight against obesity.
Plenity, which forms a gel in the belly, was approved in the US after 60% of patients on a trial lost at least 5% of their weight – keeping it off 12 months later.
And experts here say the plant-based tablets could soon be available without prescription in the UK. Prof Jason Halford, of the European Association for the Study of Obesity, said: “We’ve never had evidence like this. This is the first product like this that has done a legitimate trial.
“I think it will be sold directly to the public… in a chemist off the shelf and in pharmacy sections of supermarkets.”
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, said: “Finally we may have a weight-loss pill worth writing home about.”
‘Kids at risk from large dinners’
Children eating their biggest meals at lunch and teatime could experience obesity issues, a study suggests.
A relatively higher intake of fat by four-year-olds at lunch increased by 17% the risk of a child being overweight at seven.
Research also showed having a relatively higher energy intake at lunch and supper or at mid-afternoon “was associated with higher odds of developing overweight/obesity”.
Scientists from the University of Porto in Portugal concluded that skipping breakfast and eating later in the day could impact on a child’s body.
The report said: “Considering all daily eating occasions, a higher proportion of energy and macro-nutrient intake at main meals and a lower proportion during the afternoon and evening events seems to be more beneficial for children’s weight.”