Rise in obesity related hospital admissions in north Essex

RISING levels of obesity in north Essex are putting a strain on the local NHS, it has been revealed.

Figures issued by NHS North Essex show the number of obesity-related admissions to hospital has increased by 71%, from 218 in 2009-10 to 373 in 2011-12.

Although numbers have increased for both men and women, the number of female patients has seen the most dramatic rise, from 112 to 236 in the same time period.

In contrast, the number of men admitted during that time went up from 106 to 137.

Amongst the most significant increases was in the 36-59 female age group which jumped from 64 to 117.

For 18 to 35-year-olds the number has gone up more than four-fold from 14 to 68. The only age group to see a decrease is males aged between three and 17-years-old which has gone down from 10 in 2009-10 to five in 2011-12.

Experts said there was a direct link between obesity numbers and hospital treatments, which has stemmed from more sedentary lifestyles.

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Health improvement specialist from NHS North Essex, Adrian Coggins, said: “If we see an increase in obesity levels, which we have both nationally and locally, then the health problems that come with it will also increase.

“Compared with previous decades, people are more sedentary and live in an obesogenic environment – we have to make much more effort to be active.

“We live in a society where there is an over-abundance of food which is high in sugars and high in fats and where half of adults are overweight, so it’s become the social norm.

“We also know that sometimes parents underestimate whether their children are overweight because they themselves are, so it gives them a distorted view which is a dangerous combination.”

Mr Coggins added that the NHS was working much more closely with engineers and planners at local authorities to design environments which encouraged more walking and movement.