How we’re all fighting fat - the region’s obesity league tables revealed for the first time
PUBLISHED: 16:48 04 February 2014 | UPDATED: 23:46 04 February 2014
Three-quarters of people in some parts of England and more than half in the East are overweight or obese, according to a new league table of the country’s fattest towns and cities.
For the first time, England-wide data reveals the fattest and thinnest parts of England and the scale of the obesity crisis.
Overall, 63.8% of adults in England are overweight or obese, with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or over.
The fattest local authority area is Copeland in west Cumbria, where 75.9% of people are overweight or obese.
This is followed by Doncaster (74.4%), East Lindsey in Lincolnshire (73.8%), Ryedale in North Yorkshire (73.7%), Sedgemoor in Somerset (73.4%) and Gosport in Hampshire (72.9%).
What is BMI?
For most adults, an ideal BMI is in the range 18.5 to 24.9.
If your BMI is 25 or more, you’re over the ideal weight for your height:
25 to 29.9 is overweight
30 to 39.9 is obese
40 or more is very obese
If your BMI is less than 18.5, you’re under the ideal weight for your height.
If you want to calculate your BMI, see How can I work out my BMI? or try our healthy weight calculator.
These ranges are only for adults. BMI is interpreted differently for children. If you’re concerned about your child’s weight, get advice from your GP.
If your BMI is 25 or more, you should think about losing weight.
Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of health problems, such as:
type 2 diabetes
some types of cancer
high blood pressure (hypertension)
Healthcare professionals use the words obese and obesity as clinical terms to indicate your increased risk of health problems. They do not use these terms to describe what you look like. You can find more information about obesity in the Health A-Z.
Talk to your GP before starting a weight loss programme if you have a long-term health condition, such as type 2 diabetes or heart failure.
If you intend to go on a low-fat or low-calorie diet to achieve gradual weight loss, you should seek advice from your GP beforehand. They can offer you help, support and advice before you start your diet.
During your diet, you should also have regular follow-up appointments with your GP to keep track of your progress. They can also offer support to help you reach your weight loss goal sensibly.
If your BMI is less than 18.5, you may want to talk to your GP about gaining weight.
Being underweight can increase your risk of other health problems, such as:
brittle bones (osteoporosis)
absent periods in women (amenorrhoea)
iron deficiency (anaemia)
In the east, the fattest place is Fenland (72.4%) and the thinnest Norwich 57.8%.
The fattest region is the North East, where 68% of people are overweight or obese, followed by the West Midlands at 65.7%.
The fattest county overall is Cumbria, with 68.3% of people overweight or obese, followed by North Yorkshire and Staffordshire, both on 67.9%.
Meanwhile, the thinnest local authorities include several in London, such as Kensington and Chelsea (45.9%) and Richmond upon Thames (47.6%).
Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: "The publication of these figures has to be welcomed because they will give local authorities a better chance of fighting obesity than did 15 years of tackling the epidemic from Westminster.
"County and town halls were handed the poisoned chalice of doing something about the epidemic only last April but were underfunded for the task.
"The overall figure of 64% for the country is bad enough but when figures rise to around 80% for some local areas, one has to believe that the problem may be insurmountable.
"The projection that 50% of the country could be obese before 2050 could unfortunately come to pass unless really radical steps are taken now by central government to tackle the problem."
Joseph Clift, policy manager at the British Heart Foundation, said: "These new figures hold a mirror in front of the country's waistline and it reflects a very unhealthy picture.
"Put simply, too many people weigh too much.
"This should be a catalyst for action at a local and national level.
"The Westminster government need to introduce consistent regulation for advertising unhealthy products on TV and online to stop food companies exploiting loopholes.
"Local authorities need to be designing towns and cities in ways which encourage people to be more active, whether that's by walking or cycling.
"They also need to ensure everyone has access to high-quality green spaces where people can play sport or be active."
Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, which released the figures, said: "Many local authorities are already working hard to reduce obesity levels and these new data will help all local areas monitor their progress in tackling these long-standing problems.
"People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers.
"Excess weight can also affect self-esteem and mental health. Overall health problems associated with being overweight or obese cost the NHS over £5 billion each year.
"There is no silver bullet to reducing obesity; it is a complex issue that requires action at individual, family, local and national levels. We can all play our part in this by eating a healthy, balanced diet and being more active."
See tomorrow's paper for more on this story.
• FIGHTING FAT - HOW THE REGION SHAPES UP
Here is a breakdown by local authority of the percentage of people who are overweight or obese in each area.
King’s Lynn and West Norfolk 70.3%
Great Yarmouth 68.5%
North Norfolk 68.3%
Mid Suffolk 67.6%
St. Edmundsbury 66.0%
Forest Heath 65.1%
East Cambridgeshire 65.0%
Suffolk Coastal 61.6%
South Norfolk 61.2%