One in four British adults is obese, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, prompting fears that the UK has become the ‘fat man of Europe’.

The UK has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe, the 2013 report says. Obesity levels in the UK have more than trebled in the last 30 years. Estimates predict more than half the population could be obese by 2050.

The cause of the rapid rise has been blamed on modern lifestyles. The car, TV, computers, desk jobs, high-calorie food and food marketing have all contributed to inactivity and overeating.

Most people who become obese put on weight gradually between the ages of 20 and 40, but there is some suggestion that the path is established in early childhood.

“Overweight children are more likely to become overweight adults,” says Susan Jebb, Professor of diet and population health at the University of Oxford. “Obesity is a consequence of the abundance and convenience of modern life, as well as the human body’s propensity to store fat.”