Poll: One-in-four adults in Suffolk are obese as health chiefs pin hopes on London 2012

NEARLY one in four Suffolk adults are now classed as obese but there are still hopes of building on the momentum of the Olympic Games to get people more active.

Cycling hero Bradley Wiggins’ success has sparked optimism London 2012 will inspire more people - especially youngsters - to take up sport.

But new Department of Health figures - described as “very disappointing” by health chiefs - show 24% of Suffolk adults are obese.

But with iniatives from Live Well Suffolk and Healthy Ambitions Suffolk many remain hopeful of a tunraround.

The figures also reveal one in five adults smoke and around 17.5% of Year 6 children are classed as obese.

Obesity is calculated using the body mass index (BMI) - a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of his/her height in metres. The World Health Organisation says a person is obese when BMI is 30 or more.

Last night councillor Kathy Pollard, health spokeswoman for Suffolk Lib Dems, said the figures were of “huge concern”.

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“I hope there will be a long-term effect from the Olympics but I don’t think there necessarily will be,” she said. “I think it may have a short-term effect but there has to be a prolonged effort. It’s not all just about the Olympics.

“Locally there’s only so much that can be done - nationally there needs to be a drive to make people more active and to eat more healthily.

“It’s going to be a long-term project and we have to start when children are younger and teach them good habits.

“I know there are staff [at the county council] that are dedicated to improving health and they have to work with limited resources.”

Earlier this year an ambitious health drive was launched to make Suffolk the most active county in England.

The initiative - backed by EADT and involving Suffolk County Council, NHS Suffolk and Healthy Ambitions Suffolk - targeted 16,000 people in the county who do little or no exercise.

Peter Funnell, executive director of Healthy Ambitions Suffolk, reacting to the latest figures, said: “It’s disappointing that we’re getting high levels of obesity in the county. I think it suggests that we need to do more and more to address these issues.

“I think initiatives such as this [the most active county] to encourage people to think about these issues and take action are to be applauded.

“However you are looking at global trends here and there’s not a simple, quick fix.”

Meanwhile Live Well Suffolk, the county’s healthy lifestyle service, will be aiming to build on the momentum of the Olympics. It is offering free one-to-one programmes to help those wanting to get more active, as well as a range of exercise courses such as zumba, aerobics and spinning.

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