Stevenage obesity levels are on the rise

OBESITY levels in Stevenage were significantly worse last year than in 2009, despite elsewhere in Comet country seeing no significant change.

This week marks National Obesity Week, run by the National Obesity Forum, which aims to target and raise awareness of the condition.

The group is marking the week to try and drum up support for those who are overweight, and help them lose the weight they need.

Although child and adult obesity levels in North Hertfordshire and Central Bedfordshire are currently better or in line with national and regional levels, Stevenage is below par for both of these.

According to the latest health profiles for the town, 29.4 per cent of adults are classed as obese, compared to the national rate of 24.2 per cent.

In 2009, 25.9 per cent of adults in Stevenage were obese, meaning in just one year there was a 3.5 per cent increase of people with the condition.

In comparison, Health Profiles shows 22.6 per cent and 24.8 per cent of adults in North Herts and Central Beds respectively were classed as obese in 2010.

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The latter is just slightly above the national figure at that time, with North Herts levels lower. All three are, however, above the levels in Hertfordshire which sits at a low 21.8 per cent.

According to the latest statistics, child obesity in Stevenage was higher at 11.4 per cent than the national average of 9.6 per cent. North Herts and Central Beds were both lower, at 7.6 and 7.3 per cent respectively.

In Stevenage, 21.6 per cent of year six pupils were obese, something which NHS Herts said was increasing and higher than the county average.

“Tackling obesity – both in children and adults – is a key priority for the NHS,” said a spokesman for NHS Hertfordshire.

“When looking at levels of adult obesity, the percentage of adults in Stevenage with a BMI of 30 or more has risen.

“Although this is not a significant increase, the overall levels of adult obesity are a concern and the PCT provides a variety of support for people to help them get to, and maintain, a healthy weight.”

It is estimated that the cost to the NHS for obesity in Stevenage is �7 million annually.

In order to help parents and their children get to a healthy weight, the Herts PCT has given a grant to several schemes in Stevenage including a Family Meal Times project at Bridge Road Children’s Centre and a ‘buggycise’ class at Shephall Children’s Centre.