Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

War on obesity as figures reveal scale of crisis

There has been a sharp rise in the number of bariatric procedures carried out on obese patients in NHS hospitals over the last five years

A new campaign aimed at tackling obesity in Northern Ireland has been launched — as figures show more than half of adults here are overweight or obese.

The government-led initiative is set to offer help for those already overweight and for those “inching towards bad health”.

Accompanying the Public Heath Agency (PHA) campaign is a new website — www.choosetolivebetter.com — which the organisation has said is designed to help support those trying to shift the Christmas pounds by “providing helpful tips and practical advice”.

Dr Carolyn Harper of the PHA said that with more than one in two adults in Northern Ireland now overweight or obese many people don’t even realise that they fall into this category and are putting their health at risk.

“The focus of the PHA is to promote health and wellbeing and reduce inequalities in health, and that is why we are mounting this major new initiative,” she said.

“Being overweight or obese increases the risk of developing heart disease, some cancers and type two diabetes.

“This campaign aims to help people recognise when they are overweight or obese, explain the health effects, and encourage small, realistic lifestyle changes that will help maintain a healthy weight.”

Evidence now shows that obesity can reduce life expectancy by as much as nine years and increases the risk of Northern Ireland’s biggest killers — heart disease and cancer.

According to the PHA, 61% of adults across the province are overweight or obese, and the Northern Ireland Health Survey has shown almost half of those assessed as being overweight had felt their weight was “about right or too light”.

Helping to launch the campaign, Northern Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said obesity is a “modern lifestyle epidemic” which is “threatening our health and wellbeing”.

“Tackling the problem is one of the biggest public health challenges we face in Northern Ireland,” he said.

“The launch of this campaign is a key step in delivering on this strategy and ensuring we engage with the public to empower them to make real and lasting positive changes to their lifestyle and ultimately their health.”

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