Too many people are unaware obesity
is linked to cancer, and believe the main reason
to lose weight is to look good, a survey has found.
Cancer Research says its findings
show a worrying lack of knowledge.
The poll of over 4,000 adults
found 40% thought looking good was a reason to
maintain a healthy weight, while 32% knew it lowered
Obesity increases the risk of
cancers including bowel, stomach, oesophageal
and kidney, womb and breast cancers.
Cancer experts warn that being
obese or overweight is one of the most significant
preventable causes of cancer in non-smokers.
Rates of obesity are increasing
throughout the UK.
In the poll, people were asked
to choose why it was good to lose weight.
Younger people were the most
Almost half - 48% - said looking
good was a reason for being a healthy weight,
with only 34% identifying cancer risk as a motivating
But in the over-65 age group,
looking good and cancer risk were equal reasons
for those over 65 with 25% listing both.
Overall, it was found 67% - twice
as many as knew about cancer risks - realised
losing weight reduced the risk of heart disease.
Cancer Research UK has now linked
up with the charity Weight Concern to offer a
simple weight management programme, which has
advice about eating a healthy and balanced diet
and building regular exercise into daily life.
People are also urged to stop
smoking and to protect themselves in the sun.
Dr Lesley Walker, director of
cancer information at Cancer Research UK, said:
"This research provides a real insight into the
priorities many of us have when it comes to looking
after our bodies and the low awareness of the
link between obesity and cancer.
"We know for those who don't
smoke, maintaining a healthy body weight is one
of the most important things we can do to reduce
our risk of cancer."
Professor Jane Wardle, director
of Cancer Research UK's health behaviour unit,
said: "It is alarming is that so many people are
unaware that reducing cancer risk is a benefit
of maintaining a healthy body weight.
"We need to continue raising
awareness of the dangers of obesity, and offer
information to help people lose those extra pounds."