BOLTON is heading for an obesity crisis unless the problem is tackled, warn the town’s health experts.

The warning comes after the National Obesity Forum said Britain was in danger of surpassing the prediction contained in a 2007 report, which estimated more than half the UK population would be obese by 2050.

The forum's report called for hard-hitting awareness campaigns in a bid to tackle the crisis, similar to the approach taken to smoking.

Public Health chiefs and GP’s say they are already working hard to educate people about weight management, healthy eating and exercise.

And experts claimed they had seen soaring numbers of not only overweight but also obese and morbidly obese people in the town.

Mr Brian Newman, a consultant surgeon who runs Diet UK in Newlands Medical Centre, Heaton, says he has seen a dramatic increase in the number of morbidly obese people in Bolton.

Mr Newman — who has worked in Bolton for more than 25 years — said: “I think the predictions grossly underestimate the problem of obesity which is going to cripple the NHS.

“Not only have I seen an increase in overweight people, I have seen massive increase in the obese and the morbidly obese.

“The way to tackle this problem is to treat obesity as you would any other medical disease. Doctors also need to help people with their addiction eating, because that what it is.”

Health bosses said tackling obesity was a priority. Dr Stephen Liversedge, clinical director for primary care and health improvement at NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “We have been aware for some time now of the increasing health problems surrounding obesity.

“All health professionals in primary care, be they GPs, practice nurses, or nurse practitioners, are working with patients to address this problem, providing advice, support, and encouragement.

“NHS Bolton Clinical Commissioning Group is working closely with Bolton Council to tackle this issue.

“We have a number of specialist services in borough, commissioned by the council.

“We should all eat a healthy diet that contains only the number of calories that we need and exercise regularly. This is an important message for everyone.”

Last year, Dr Wirin Bhatiani, chairman of Bolton’s CCG, warned the town’s rising obesity levels could see the number of cases of Type 2 diabetes soar. By 2020, experts predict about 20,000 people in Bolton will have diabetes.

The total is now 17,588. Childhood obesity rates in Bolton dropped for the first time last year. Some 20.7 per cent of year 6 children in the borough are now obese compared to 21.2 per cent the previous year.

But this is still higher than the national average of 19 per cent.