‘Obesity is a concern for the whole population’

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PORTSMOUTH’S director of public health has backed a national report calling on a greater emphasis to tackle female obesity.

England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies has warned obesity is the biggest threat to women’s health and the health of future generations, in her annual report out today.

Women in particular can often neglect their health as they focus on caring for children or parents, but them being fit and well is crucial to them being able to continue looking after their wider family’s wellbeing.

Dr Janet Maxwell, director of public health for Portsmouth

She said the food industry needed to do more or it should face a sugar tax.

Dr Janet Maxwell, director of public health for Portsmouth, said: ‘I would echo Dame Sally’s comments that obesity is a concern for the whole population given the negative effects it has on people’s health and wellbeing.

‘The most current picture we have of obesity in Portsmouth is data from 2012, which showed 25.1 per cent of adults in Portsmouth were obese.

‘With obesity being a key factor in causing someone to develop type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and cardiovascular disease including heart attacks and strokes, it’s essential that this is tackled.’

England’s top doctor said obesity was so serious it should be a priority for the whole population, but particularly for women because too often it shortened their lives.

She told the BBC: ‘I think it is inevitable that manufacturing has to reformulate and resize, that supermarkets and others need to stop cheap promotions on unhealthy food and putting unhealthy food at the check-out, and limit advertising dramatically.

‘I think we’re at a tipping point. If industry won’t deliver then we’ll have to look at a sugar tax.’

Dame Sally highlighted the fact that women had to look after their physical and mental health during pregnancy for the sake of their children and grandchildren.

Dr Maxwell added: ‘Women in particular can often neglect their health as they focus on caring for children or parents, but them being fit and well is crucial to them being able to continue looking after their wider family’s wellbeing.

‘Dame Sally’s comments on women looking after themselves during pregnancy are especially pertinent as a child’s development in the womb is impacted by the health of the mother.

‘The Wellbeing Service is working with closely with Queen Alexandra Hospital to help any expectant women to stop smoking as this can cause premature birth, low birth weight and respiratory problems in babies, such as asthma.

‘A shift that we’re championing is empowering people to take charge of their health and to feel they can have conversations with doctors where they tell them what they feel is wrong.

‘Our work in communities and encouraging more peer support should both help towards this empowerment.’

Elsewhere in the report, the chief medical officer recommended that:

– Clinical staff be better trained to recognise and respond to violence against women, including female genital mutilation, domestic abuse and sexual violence.

– More research is needed to improve maternal and child mental and physical health.

– More research on screening tests, preeclampsia and foetal growth is also needed

– Children should receive integrated personal, social, health and economic education (PSHE) with sex and relationships education (SRE) at school.

– A full range of contraception services should be available to all women, at all reproductive ages.