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Essex: County winning fight against obesity

12:14 21 February 2013

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HEALTH officials have welcomed a new report which shows north-east Essex is successfully tackling obesity – with figures up to 35% below national levels.

The figures showed 1,013 people were admitted to hospital in 2011/12 when obesity was the primary or secondary reason, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

This equates to 325 people per 100,000 on average – 35% lower than the national average of 502 and 41% less than the east of England average of 555.

But the report also revealed that 73 people were admitted to hospital when obesity was the primary reason, an average of 23 people per 100,000 which was seven more than in 2010/11, one above the national figure and 11 above the east of England average.

Jo Broadbent, consultant in public health at Essex County Council and North East Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, praised the figures as “good news” but warned obesity remains a “growing concern”.

Dr Broadbent said: “The low rate of hospital admissions related to obesity is good news for the north-east Essex health economy and reflects the excellent work being done by health services and individuals to manage obesity and the risks associated with it.

“However, obesity levels remain a growing concern. In Essex, there is a projected increase in obesity rates of 2% per year in adults and 0.5% in children.

“Overall levels of physical activity in Essex remain poor as well.”

Meanwhile, the report highlighted one in 10 children are obese when they start school nationally.

It said 9.5% of children in Reception class – aged just four and five – were classed as clinically obese, while a fifth of pupils in Year Six – aged 10 and 11 – were excessively overweight.

But Dr Broadbent said childhood obesity rates were closely monitored in north-east Essex.

Dr Broadbent said: “Childhood obesity rates are monitored through the annual Child Measurement Programme, which assesses child obesity rates on entry and on leaving primary school.

“Pre-school support on healthy choices for families can be accessed through local children’s centres.

“National recommendations on physical activity state that all children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 60 minutes every day, and that adults should do 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.”

Nationally, the figures also showed that England’s obesity epidemic has got progressively worse over the last two decades.

In 1993, 13% of men and 16% of women were obese and the figures soared to 24% and 26% respectively by 2011.

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