New vow to fight obesity after new league table shows that 65pc of East Anglians have weight problem
PUBLISHED: 07:08 05 February 2014 | UPDATED: 09:44 05 February 2014
Health chiefs have pledged to make tackling obesity one of their top priorities after it emerged that almost two-thirds of adults in East Anglia have a weight problem.
A new league table reveals that 65pc of people in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire are classed as obese or overweight.
Public health officials say there is “no silver bullet” to reducing obesity levels after the figures highlighted the scale of the challenge facing local authorities.
Norfolk, Suffolk, and Cambridgeshire are above the national average for the percentage of people with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 and above. However, there are big district variations with King’s Lynn and West Norfolk (70.3pc) and Fenland (72.4pc) the fattest areas of the region and Cambridge (54.3pc) and Norwich (57.8pc) the thinnest.
Obesity costs the NHS £5bn with the problem causing an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers and can affect self-esteem and mental health.
Health chiefs said that areas at the bottom of the league table had high levels of obesity, which are influenced by social and economic deprivation and age.
65.7pc of adults in Norfolk are overweight or obese. In Suffolk, that figure is 65.3pc and 65pc in Cambridgeshire.
Norfolk county councillor Dan Roper, who is chairman of the Norfolk Health and Wellbeing Board, said tackling obesity was becoming a top priority for county and district councils, Clinical Commissioning Groups, and voluntary organisations. “It is a big issue, but it is one we are putting at the top of the agenda. Obesity is one of our three top priorities along with dementia and early years. Life expectancy is tumbling, particularly with people with obesity issues and it is right up there with dementia with the cost on the NHS, but it is something that can be tackled.”
“We need better integration in the system to make sure GPs are aware of what services are available and ask GPs to look at health problems more holistically.”
“We know from demographics and social economic make-up of the county that we are a little above the average, but it is not a result as far as we are concerned and we want to reduce levels so we are closer to the bottom of the league table,” he said.
Overall, 63.8pc of adults in England are overweight or obese, with a (BMI) of 25 or over.
The fattest local authority area is Copeland in west Cumbria, where 75.9pc of people are overweight or obese. The thinnest local authorities include several in London, such as Kensington and Chelsea (45.9pc) and Richmond upon Thames (47.6pc).
However, officials said published data from the Health Survey for England revealed that the rate of increase in overweight and obese adults had slowed in recent years and in children, levels are stabilising.
Gina Radford, Anglia and Essex Public Health England centre director, said: “Public Health England is committed to helping tackle the levels of people who are overweight and obese by supporting our local authorities to develop a broad programme of action to reduce levels of excess weight.”
“There is no silver bullet to reducing obesity. It is an issue that requires action at national, local, family and individual level. Local authorities are ideally placed to develop co-ordinated action across their departments, services and partner organisations to tackle overweight and obesity in the local population.”
“This new data will enable local councils to monitor progress towards the national ambition of achieving a downward trend in excess weight by 2020.”
The fattest region is the North East, where 68pc of people are overweight or obese, followed by the West Midlands at 65.7pc. The fattest county overall is Cumbria, with 68.3pc of people overweight or obese, followed by North Yorkshire and Staffordshire, both on 67.9pc.
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