Employers have once again been urged to do more to promote healthy lifestyles among their workers after newly-obtained statistics revealed that the number of people off work for being obese is on the rise.

According to the government’s own figures, around one in four British adults can now be classed as obese, with millions of work days lost every year as a result of weight-related illnesses.

Now, figures obtained by the Opposition show that more than 2,000 people across the UK have had to quit working altogether and rely on benefits due to being obese, with health experts calling on both the government and employers to step up their efforts to keep the nation’s workforce in shape.

Under plans recently announced by ministers, only the most seriously ill or disabled members of society will be allowed to apply for a new Employment Support Allowance, with everyone else to be moved onto Jobseekers Allowance, which pays out less and requires recipients to attend interviews aimed at helping them back into the workplace.

It is estimated that obesity currently costs the UK economy £7 billion a year through a combination of health treatments and absenteeism from work.