Newspapers and television programmes have been filled with stories on obesity in recent months, with many making dramatic claims about the risks posed by rising levels.
However, some have questioned the seriousness of obesity and suggested that it may not be that bad for health after all.
Dr Colin Waine, chairman of the National Obesity Forum, expressed concern about these conflicting press reports, claiming that they "confuse the public".
"I don't want to strangle free speech but when [the press] puts these reports out, it needs to think about the knock-on effects," he claimed.
"There is no doubt that the earlier in life you become obese the shorter is your life expectancy," he added.
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association has suggested that it is a person's level of fitness that determines their health, regardless of their weight.
Meanwhile, a separate study published last month revealed that people who are modestly overweight have a lower death rate than those who are underweight, obese, or of normal weight.
However, obesity has been linked to many health problems, including heart disease, type 2 diabetes and several forms of cancer.