Amid the increasing problems surrounding the issue of obesity in the UK, general insurer Norwich Union has issued a warning ahead of Obesity Awareness Week, stating that piling on the pounds could lead to higher life insurance premiums.

According to the insurance group, a clinically obese person could be paying twice as much as a person of a ‘normal’ weight for their cover. For example, a 35-year-old, 5’5 non-smoking female weighing in at 15 stones faces a premium 25% higher than her nine-stone counterpart, according to Norwich Union statistics. This is also applicable to men, though the increase in premiums may vary.

Additional premiums are imposed when a person has a body mass index (BMI) of above 30. The average BMI for a person of ‘normal’ weight is between 18.5 and 25.

Obesity dramatically increases the likelihood of a number of chronic medical conditions including high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, said Tony Jupp, chief underwriter at Norwich Union. It can also put a tremendous strain on weight-bearing joints especially the hips and knees, leading to a number of mobility problems.

In addition, many overweight people are extremely sensitive as to how they are perceived by others and these concerns can often lead to periods of anxiety and even depression. The cost of life insurance cover has to reflect these additional risks, Mr Jupp added.