Two thirds of adults in West Suffolk are classed as clinically obese under figures released by Public Health England this week.
The findings have been described as disappointing by leading councillor Sara Mildmay-White, St Edmundsbury cabinet member for health and well being.
Figures show that 66 per cent of adults in St Edmundsbury are overweight or obese with a body mass index – BMI – of 25 or more. The national average is 63.8 per cent. Some 65.1 per cent of adults in Forest Heath are cited as obese with Mid Suffolk recording 67.6 per cent. Overall, Suffolk has a 65.3 per cent level and Norfolk 65.7 per cent.
Cllr Mildmay-White said the figures were concerning, particularly in the light of the range of initiatives in Suffolk to get people active and with the forthcoming arrival of the Queen’s Baton and Women’s Tour of Britain in Bury.
Cllr Midlmay-White said the figures probably reflected an older population locally but it was essential that today’s parents took action to stave off the spectre of child obesity.
“We are promoting more and more family based activities with Live Well Suffolk and Healthy Ambitions. People could firstly consider how many calories they consume when they have a sugary drink.
“We need to be worried about childhood obesity as obese parents tend to overload their children. If parents are not getting off the sofa then children will not,” she said.
Cllr Alan Murray, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for health and adult care, said: “These figures highlight the challenge for the health profession, local government and individuals when it comes to tackling the issue. We know the causes of obesity are often complex, and that there is no single solution to the problem. We also know that being fit is as, if not more, important than being thin. That’s why we are working with our partners and local communities to help people to lose weight and understand the importance of a balanced diet and regular exercise.”
Dr Jon Ferdinand, a GP at Wickhambrook Surgery and a member of the Governing Body of the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said: “The CCG wants every person in west Suffolk to live a long and healthy life. Smaller changes are easier for patients to maintain than a complete overhaul of their lifestyle.
“Public Health Suffolk and LiveWell Suffolk provide education and support for local people to make the necessary changes to improve their health and wellbeing, and the CCG supports their work. Eating healthily, taking regular exercise, reducing alcohol intake and stopping smoking can have a hugely positive effect on health and increase life expectancy.
“There are many initiatives in west Suffolk that can help people make those lifestyle changes including Healthy Walks Suffolk, weight management programmes and healthy eating courses.”