Harmful habits are worsening public health, says report, as groups urge crackdown on ‘irresponsible’ industries
Firms are earning £52.7bn a year from UK sales of tobacco, junk food and excessive alcohol, and their consumption is contributing to Britain’s rising tide of illness, a report says.
The figures prompted a coalition of health, medical and children’s organisations to demand an urgent crackdown on “the irresponsible behaviour of health-harming industries”.
NHS hospitals admit 2.5 million patients a year for treatment of diseases directly linked to being overweight (1.02 million), drinking (980,000) or smoking (506,000).
About 459,000 people cannot work because they are too ill to do so as a result of their smoking (289,000), alcohol consumption (99,000) or being morbidly obese, with a body mass index over 40 (70,000).
People who smoke or drink at harmful levels are more likely to be jobless and earn less than those who do not – a “wage penalty” for their unhealthy lifestyles.
That wage penalty, together with unemployment and lost productivity due to smoking, drinking and obesity, costs the UK £31bn a year.