THE battle of the bulging waistlines shows no signs of stopping. The latest figures to reveal the impact of our growing weight show a 10-fold increase in patients needing specialist transport in the past decade.

With the numbers spiralling, so is the cost. If trends continue, it could reach £100,000 a year.

That cost deprives the NHS of spending elsewhere and transport is just one area where obesity is devouring budgets.

There is still debate over whether those who reach colossal weights do so from a lifestyle choice or a predisposition towards gaining weight. What is needed is clarity over the causes and action to address it.

So far, measures have proved ineffective as borne out by the numbers.

Food labelling is not consistent and remains confusing to many.

Free school meals hope to tackle the crisis at the earliest ages. But many primary schools do not have kitchens – the Oxford Mail revealed 41 were lacking facilities in the county – and will have to bus in supplies instead, while sugary, high-fat foods are still on offer in shops.

Calls for a fat tax on food fall on deaf ears at Westminster, which often instead reverberates with the voices of company lobbyists. The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group is having to shoulder the burden.

Residents ultimately foot the bill.

Obesity is a ticking health time-bomb that is only getting worse and the time to act is now.