ALARMING research has shown that Portsmouth is in the grip of an obesity crisis – and warnings have been made that more needs to be done to counter it.
Nearly a quarter of all the city’s over-18s are obese, according to the latest data from Public Health England.
I think the figures are worrying. There is no doubt there is a problem countrywide.Councillor Peter Edgar
The figures, revealed in an interactive map, produced by Allcures Online Pharmacy, show 24 per cent of Portsmouth adults tip the scales at an unhealthy level.
This tops the average figure for Hampshire of 23 per cent and West Sussex’s total, with just over a fifth of its residents being obese.
The results come after The News revealed in January that a third of all 11-year-olds in the Portsmouth area were overweight or obese.
The statistics have now worried leaders in Portsmouth who have said action needs to be taken to trim the city’s bulging waistlines.
Andrea Wright is Portsmouth City Council’s public health development officer for healthy weight.
She said: ‘Obesity is a key factor in causing someone to develop Type 2 diabetes, liver disease and cardiovascular disease, including heart attacks and strokes, so it’s essential that it’s tackled.
‘Having a quarter of the adult population of Portsmouth in this category is a real cause for concern given the negative effects that obesity has on someone’s health and well-being.’
Former city council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said the obesity levels in Portsmouth were concerning.
He claimed more needed to be done to urge people to not use their cars when walking short distances in the city and to encourage healthier eating habits from an earlier age.
However, the key threat, Cllr Vernon-Jackson claims, is the city’s rising number of takeaway restaurants.
‘One of the most threatening things when looking at obesity is the takeaways in the city,’ said the Lib Dem leader.
‘I don’t understand why we keep saying yes to them. We have got enough takeaways and we don’t need any more.’
The study shows the city’s number of obese residents is fractionally higher than the national average of 23 per cent.
But rival city Southampton has an even higher rate than Portsmouth, with a fourth of its residents being obese.
According to the data, the area in the UK with the worst rate is Barnsley, where 35 per cent are obese.
Councillor Peter Edgar is a member of the council of governors at Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham.
Speaking of Portsmouth, he said: ‘The figures are worrying.
‘There is no doubt there is a problem countrywide.
‘We are encouraging healthy eating programmes in schools and encouraging healthy diets. It is being taken very, very seriously by education departments.’
One of the key causes of the surge according to Allcures Online Pharmacy, is the rise in sugary food and drink.
But Mrs Wright does believe steps are being put in place to reverse the problem in Portsmouth.
‘Within Portsmouth there are a number of different activities encouraging healthier eating,’ she added.
‘Our well-being service provides free support to individuals and families looking to improve their diet, reduce weight or lead a more active lifestyle.
‘The service particularly helps those who have multiple factors associated with their struggle to maintain a healthy weight, for example smoking, alcohol or work problems.’
As well as the free well-being service, the city council is also backing a range of healthy eating classes, teaching people to cook nutritious meals on a budget.
Food Portsmouth also brings people together in the city to promote healthy eating as well as encouraging people to grow and cook their own foods.
To get advice from Portsmouth’s well-being team, call (023) 9229 4001 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
WORKING OUT YOUR BODY MASS INDEX
According to guidelines set out by the NHS, people with a Body Mass Index above 30 qualify as obese.
To work out a BMI, divide your weight in kilograms by your height in metres squared, ie kg/m2