Hard to swallow: North West revealed as most obese region in the country

Obesity hospital admissions were higher in the North West than anywhere else in the country last year, according to new statistics. 

Research from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) revealed that between 2013 and 2014, there were 55,848 admissions with a primary or secondary diagnosis in the region.

From Greater Manchester wards, Manchester City Council and Tameside were among the areas where the issue was most alarming.

The National Institute for Health and Care and Excellence (NICE) says that obesity levels have doubled worldwide in the last 35 years, increasing the risk of life-threatening diseases.

A NICE spokesman said: “Everyone should aim to maintain or achieve a healthy weight to improve their health and reduce the risk of diseases associated with overweight and obesity such as coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”

The organisation concedes that although genetics can play a part in being overweight, ultimately it is environment that plays the largest role.

The guidelines for dealing with obesity advocate ‘small, sustained improvements to daily habits help people maintain a healthy weight’.

Changes to diet and lifestyle can be difficult to encourage and often surgery or medication is the only option for weight loss, but this puts pressure on an already stretched public health service.

Professor Mark Baker, Centre for Clinical Practice Director at NICE, said: “The financial implications of obesity are huge – 10% of the NHS budget is used to treat diabetes and its complications alone.

“It is a major issue, if not the major issue, for the health service in the coming years.”

Last month, MM spoke to Haleh Moravej, a senior lecturer in nutritional sciences at Manchester Metropolitan University, who recalled how war-time Britain was one of the healthiest nations in the world, as everything had to be rationed.

She was responding to media outlets that had dismissed guidelines from the 1980’s that warned people to avoid saturated fat and was keen to stress that people must always be wary of how much they are eating.

“At the moment we don’t have any research saying the recommended levels of saturated fat,” she said.

“There are no guidelines, and the media have misunderstood what this paper is. We should be very careful before we start having unlimited amounts of butter and cream and lard.

“The current recommendation is a match-boxed size of butter per day. If you’re having more than that for breakfast – it’s not healthy. You also shouldn’t eat more than one takeaway per week.”

There were yet more grim statistics in the HSCIC report for the North West. It showed that only 59% in the region met current medical guidelines for aerobic activity, the lowest in the country.

In the UK as a whole, admissions between 2013 and 2014 with a primary or secondary obesity diagnosis were at their highest in 10 years. 

Image courtesy of Tony Alter with thanks.

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