Why fighting the flab in city is now a weighty matter
MORE than half of Plymouth's residents are either overweight or obese, latest figures show.
Plymouth has a higher rate of obese adults than the England average, with 24.6 per cent of our population classed as obese.
Figures published in the latest Public Health Annual Report show the city has an estimated 23,310 obese men and 25,800 obese women.
Around 61.3 per cent of the city's population, as many as 131,795 adults, is estimated to be carrying excess weight.
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Brian O'Neill, consultant in public health for NHS Plymouth, said: "The number of people overweight and obese is increasing locally and nationally and this is creating more of a demand on the NHS.
"Some of the reasons for this include more people having a lifestyle without physical exercise, as well as the increasing availability of high-fat food.
"We always take weight management seriously and are working with our partners to help people to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
"People can do something about this themselves, but often need support and guidance on eating healthily, as well as learning about options to increase their physical activity. People can get this support from their GP or local community groups.
"But, we know some people need that extra bit of help so in Plymouth we run healthy lifestyle clinics (10% clubs) which provide help and advice on weight management, and increasing activity. These clinics are particularly targeted at areas where we have identified higher levels of obesity.
"It is important not only to reduce the calories we eat but also to increase our activity levels to achieve 150 minutes per week that can be taken in much smaller chunks.
"Plymouth City Council has already identified that there is a need to improve leisure activities and the development of the Plymouth Life Centre was an important step in achieving this."
And Sarah Hind, weight management clinical lead for Plymouth Community Healthcare, said the local figures were "worrying".
She said: "Carrying excess weight can cause a number of problems including sleep troubles, diabetes, psychological impacts and anxiety. So for all those reasons the figures are very worrying.
"Everybody knows the levels of overweight and obese people are increasing and in Plymouth we are trying to do something about that."
The range in obesity prevalence across the city does vary, the report also showed, with higher rates in the North and South West of the city, where deprivation is more of a problem.
But there are a number of individually-tailored programmes available in Plymouth to help support people in addressing their weight and enable lifestyle changes.
Sarah said: "The Weight Management Clinic is a service offered to those who are referred into the system by another health practitioner.
"We run a two-year programme to help people understand how to crack bad habits and make new good habits. It's a pro-active approach.
"Patients who make the initial step to come on the course get a huge amount of support. They will never be judged at the clinic – it's about making steps forward."