Northern Ireland

Obesity overtakes smoking as leading cause of cancer

There are more obese people in Northern Ireland than smokers
There are more obese people in Northern Ireland than smokers

OBESITY has overtaken smoking as a leading cause of cancer in Northern Ireland, a charity has warned.

New figures from Cancer Research UK show that the number of excessively overweight people is outnumbering smokers by almost three to two.

Bowel, kidney, ovarian and liver cancer are being linked to obesity.

The charity has launched a new campaign to tackle the problem, with billboards appearing at bus stops, train stations and in Belfast city centre to raise awareness.

Latest figures show there are more than 384,000 obese adults in the north - equating to 27 per cent of the adult population - while there are 214,000 smokers.

Carrying excess weight causes around 70 more cases of bowel cancer than smoking, researchers have found.

Margaret Carr, the charity's public affairs manager in the north, said: "There isn't a silver bullet to reduce obesity, but the huge fall in smoking over the years - partly thanks to advertising and environmental bans - shows that government-led change works.

"It was needed to tackle sky-high smoking rates, and now the same is true for obesity.

"We must make it easier for people in Northern Ireland to live a healthier life. As part of the cancer strategy being developed over the next year, there must be a focus on prevention. It must be ambitious and include plans to restrict junk food price promotions that tempt us to eat too much."