Great concern as obesity rockets

THE number of obese people in north-east Essex ballooned by more than 6,000 in just three years, new figures reveal.

Figures released for Colchester and Tendring show there were 28,875 obese people in March 2010 against 22,419 three years earlier, a 28% rise.

The statistics, which were obtained followed a freedom of information request to North East Essex Primary Care Trust, does not include the majority of children.

It includes all patients over 16 registered with the trust who have a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more, the definition of obesity according to the World Health Organization. BMI is calculated by dividing weight in kilograms by height in metres squared.

Chris French, assistant director of public health at North East Essex PCT, said obesity-related illnesses cost the trust �47m in 2010-11.

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He said: “Obesity has been rising for years and we’re reaching a point where it has a significant impact on health and costs.

“It’s of great concern, we have got major public health issues to deal with but obesity and sedentary lifestyles ranks up there with those.”

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Amanda Shellum, a Colchester mother-of-two who cut her weight from 23 to 15 stone, said it was important to educate about obesity from a young age.

“I instill a lot of what I have learnt into my home life so my children don’t grow up like me,” she said. “We like to treat our kids to a McDonald’s but it’s not as much as we used to.

“It’s about getting educated from a young age and it’s about being active and not sitting around playing computer games.”

Cllr Tina Dopson, communities portfolio holder at Colchester Borough Council, said she was concerned about future provision for helping obese people amid coalition proposals to scrap PCTs and put consortia of GPs in charge of commissioning healthcare.

“If we had a healthier population it would put less demand on public sector services,” she added. “I’m very keen that we offer through sign posting or through our own sport and leisure programmes as many opportunities for people to feel comfortable about reducing their BMI.”


North East Essex PCT patients aged 16 and over with a BMI greater than or equal to 30

Date No on register

Mar 2010 28,875

Mar 2009 25,803

Mar 2008 23,754

Mar 2007 22,419

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