Battle on obesity showing results

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SCARBOROUGH is bucking a national trend as the town continues to fight back against high levels of obesity.

New NHS figures show that the number of people admitted to hospital in England for obesity-related reasons rose by more than 30 per cent last year.

And the number of weight-loss hospital procedures (bariatric operations) carried out in England rose by 70 per cent, from just over 4,200 in 2008/09 to just over 7,200 in 2009/10.

However, statistics from the NHS Information Centre show that no obesity-related operations were carried out at Scarborough Hospital in 2009/10.

And for the period 2008/9 the figures for “finished consultant episodes” where obesity was a factor were statistically too low to mention.

The percentage of obese adults in Scarborough has gone up slightly from 24 per cent in 2007 to 25.8 per cent in 2010, whereas nationally it has jumped from 21.8 to 24.2.

However the figures for obese children has dropped dramatically on a local level this year.

The percentage of obese four to five year olds is now 8.9 against a national average of 9.8. And the figure for 10 to 11 year olds has dropped from 18.9 in 2006/7 to 14.9 in 2009/10, against a national average of 18.7.

Greg McGrath, the primary care trust’s health improvement manager, said: “There are some encouraging signs but we’re not out of the woods yet.

“Obesity has been an issue in Scarborough, which is why it has been a targeted area for the Change4Life campaign.”

Change4Life is a Department of Health campaign which encourages people to eat well, move more and live longer.

Mr McGrath added that the trust is also in the process of commissioning a weight management programme in Scarborough and Whitby.

People have also been helped towards a healthier lifestyle by the Altogether Better project, which is the result of a collaboration between the borough and county councils and the NHS.

Mr McGrath said: “The money available for programmes like this has been targeted to the area of greatest need.

“We would like to give the population the opportunity to change their ways. It’s a life-cycle approach - we try to do a fair bit even before children are born.”

He stressed how important it is to try and maintain a healthy weight as obesity can increase people’s rick of high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, some types of cancers and hormone abnormalities, among other complaints.

It can even reduce life expectancy by three to 14 years.

Mr McGrath said: “Many patients are unaware of the impact of obesity on health. If an obese person can lose just 10 per cent of their bodyweight it can reduce mortality by 20 to 25 per cent.”