Stockton JSNA


Obesity

Introduction

Obesity is a significant public health concern both in Stockton-on-Tees and nationally, which results in long term negative social, psychological and physical consequences. Obesity increases the risk of developing irreversible, chronic conditions at younger ages such as Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular disease (CVD), liver disease, musculoskeletal disorders, obstructive sleep apnoea, asthma, certain cancers, poor mental health and quality of life, and a reduced life expectancy of around 9 years compared to those of a healthy weight (1).

Currently, one in four adults are obese and almost 7 out of 10 men & 6 out of 10 women are either overweight or obese.

Higher levels of deprivation are associated with an increased likelihood of obesity in both adults and children (2). Obesity is a notoriously difficult condition to reverse once established; four out of five children who are obese go on to become obese adults (3) and many adults struggle to lose excess weight, often regaining any weight loss through dieting (4). Reducing levels of obesity is a complex and multifaceted problem with over a hundred contributing factors as identified in the Foresight Tackling Obesities systems map. Prevention therefore seems the best approach.

A report from Public Health England on attitudes to obesity has highlighted that people tend not to recognise obesity when it does exist – and especially so in men. Obesity is frequently regarded as a problem for individuals and health care professionals rather than society more generally, and those who are obese are often stigmatised (5). Obesity is not just detrimental at the individual level; it affects overall society and can have economic impacts, by for example, affecting a person's ability to work. Overall, it has been projected that the indirect costs of obesity to the UK economy could be as much as £27 billion by 2015 (6) and it has been suggested that obesity has the potential to reverse recent gains in life expectancy (7) and reduce healthy life expectancy by up to a third over the next 20 years.

Reducing the prevalence of overweight and obesity would reduce the amount spent on health and social care services. Work undertaken by Public Health England initially suggests that severely obese people are over 3 times more likely to need formal social care than those who are a healthy weight. The annual national cost to the wider economy is 27 billion.

 

Other JSNA topics this topic closely linked to:

Diet and nutrition

Environment

Physical inactivity

Poverty

Cancer

Transport

 

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