William Eichler 09 May 2019

Prevention work for tackling obesity under threat from cuts, council chiefs say

Early intervention by councils is ‘vital’ for dealing with obesity, council chiefs say as new figures reveal a 15% increase in hospital admissions where obesity was a factor.

The latest figures from NHS Digital reveal that there were 711,000 hospital admissions where obesity was a factor in 2017/18. This represents a 15% (94,000) increase on 2016/17.

Around two thirds of the admissions where obesity was recorded as either a primary or secondary diagnosis in 2017/18 were for women (66%).

According to the Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet, England, 2019, adult obesity prevalence stood at 29% in 2017, an increase from 26% in 2016.

Prevalence of child obesity in both Reception and Year 6 was over twice as high in the most deprived areas than in the least deprived areas. 13% compared to 6% in reception year, and 27% compared to 12% in Year 6.

Around 68% of men and 64% of women aged 19 and over met the Government's physical activity guidelines for adults in 2017/18. 21% of men and 23% of women were classed as inactive in 2017/18.

Responding to the figures, Cllr Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said that obesity was ‘one of our most serious public health challenges’.

He argued that ‘early intervention and prevention work by councils’ was ‘vital’ for tackling it.

‘Not only does it reduce the risk of people having their lives shortened by obesity-related conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease, but it also keeps the pressure off the NHS and adult social care.’

Cllr Hudspeth also warned that such early intervention by local authorities was under threat by Government cuts.

‘Councils are leading efforts to fight obesity, but have seen their public health funding budgets fall by £700m in real terms since 2015/16, which needs to be reversed in the upcoming Spending Review if they are to continue this cost-effective work and reduce health inequalities between different areas,’ he said.

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