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Nearly two-thirds of nation's adults overweight: Public Health England

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Nearly two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese, according to data from the government’s public health agency which sheds new light on the country’s growing obesity crisis.

Data from Public Health England (PHE) – the body responsible for advising local authorities on how to improve the nation’s health – shows 64 per cent of adults in England have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or over, which is the threshold for being classed as overweight.

The new figures also highlight the considerable variation in the numbers of overweight or obese people in different parts of England.

There are 19 district local authorities where more than 70 per cent of adults fall into this category, with a sizeable proportion situated in the north.

Copeland (Cumbria) is the fattest part of the country, with 75.9 per cent of adults overweight or obese, trailed closely by Doncaster (south Yorkshire) with 74.4 per cent.

In contrast, London is home to the country’s three thinnest boroughs - Kensington & Chelsea (45.9 per cent), Tower Hamlets (47.2) and Richmond upon Thames (47.6).

People who are overweight or obese have an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and certain cancers, with the NHS under severe strain from the increase in weight-related illness. At present, health problems associated with being overweight or obese cost the health service over £5 billion each year.

Professor Kevin Fenton, director of health and wellbeing at PHE, says local authorities are ideally placed to develop co-ordinated action against obesity and support the NHS, but the public must also take responsibility.

“There is no silver bullet to reducing obesity; it is a complex issue that requires action at individual, family, local and national levels,” he says.“We can all play our part in this by eating a healthy balanced diet and being more active.”

The data, which classes adults as being aged 16 or over, was collected between January 2012 to January 2013. BMI figures have been devised using measurements voluntarily supplied by respondents to a Sport England survey.

First devised by Adolphe Quetelet more than 150-years ago, BMI is calculated by taking your weight (in kilograms) and dividing it by your height squared (in metres).

The system has attracted criticism in recent years for its failure to distinguish between fat and muscle, meaning that a person’s actual health state can be misrepresented.

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Nearly two-thirds of adults in England are overweight or obese, according to data from the government’s public health agency which sheds new light on the country’s growing obesity crisis.
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