‘Absolute epidemic’: Shocking rise in Manchester obesity rates as UK dubbed fat man of Europe

By Danielle Wainwright

The British Dietetic Association has dubbed the UK ‘The Fat Man of Europe’ as recent statistics have shown a worrying rise in obesity.

A report by the BDA and The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has shown that two thirds of adults are overweight (BMI over 25) and one quarter of men and women are obese (BMI over 30).

Greater Manchester alone has roughly 90,000 adults and 14,000 children who are obese according to the 2010 ‘Healthy Weight Strategy Report’ which makes up one quarter of the population.

The statistics have led to a new campaign to lower the obesity levels in the UK as well as tackle the problems of unhealthy food and drink.

In its Measuring Up – The medical profession’s prescription for the Nation’s Obesity Crisis report, the academy is proposing a ten-point action plan it believes must be taken to make inroads into tackling the obesity crisis in the UK.

Speaking about the report Linda Hindle, Chairman of the British Dietetic Association’s DOM UK specialist group said: “Obesity in the UK is an absolute epidemic; there is no question that the recommendations in this report are essential if we are to tackle this growing concern. “

The report suggests that action by healthcare professionals is of vital importance and should promote targeted education and training programmes to ensure that every contact counts becomes a reality, for those who have most influence on patient behaviour.

The health service, with a large investment, will extend and improve weight management services and have greater provision for those with more severe obesity.

The Manchester Early Year’s Health Award, and Health, Exercise and Nutrition for the Really Young (HENRY) are services that have been implemented to tackle childhood obesity using a number of methods.

Both uses teaching and patience techniques to educate parents and chefs on cooking methods for healthy eating as well as support and guidance on daily exercise.

Children will remain a top priority and food-based standards will be introduced in every hospital as well as schools providing cooking and growing classes for 2014.

The Greater Manchester health services have been working on plans since 2010 which should help to reduce the level of obesity by 2015.

New mothers and fathers will be educated on appropriate and healthy food choices to ensure nutritional meals are used to ensure a balanced diet.

The Manchester Local Area Agreement have urged mothers to continue breastfeeding until the eighth week which ensures children are getting a healthy measure of nutrients into their second month

Junk food, classed as the obesogenic group, will be heavily targeted as fast food outlets will not be allowed near schools and advertising of foods high in saturated fats, sugar and salt before 9pm will be banned.

Greater Manchester is participating in a pilot study among chip shops helping them make their fried potatoes healthier by changing the thickness of the chips, the temperature of the cooking oil and the size of the portion.

Objections were also made to plans for a fast food restaurant to be built in West Didsbury.

Among those objecting to the development was Trinity High School which said it would encourage children to eat unhealthily undermining the work it does in school.

Fizzy drink lovers will suffer from a 20% price hike and food labelling will be more visible to educate people on the hidden dangers of seemingly healthy foods.

Manchester United recently signed a three year sponsorship deal with Chinese drinks manufacturer Wahaha, specialists in healthy drinks for children.

The deal hopes to deter children from drinking high sugared drinks opting for the beverages sponsored by their favourite football team.

Mrs Hindle said: “The focus on the obesogenic environment is particularly positive because the odds are stacked against individuals trying to make healthy choices when they are surrounded by easily accessible, relatively cheap, high calorie snacks.

“The British Dietetic Association worked hard in contributing to this report, but words alone will not combat obesity rates in this country. 

“Action across the board is what will make a difference.”

“Public health in England should provide guidance to directors of public health in working with local authorities to encourage active travel and protect or increase green spaces to make the healthy option the easy option.

“In all four nations, local authority planning decisions should be subject to a mandatory health impact assessment, which would evaluate their potential impact upon the populations’ health.”

More information can be found at

Picture courtesy of reway2007 via Flickr, with thanks

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