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City to host summit to tackle growing obesity epidemic

Health professionals, businesses and community organisations will come together next month to join the fight against obesity in Wolverhampton.

With more than two thirds of adults in the city either obese or overweight - and an increasing number of young people following suit - the city council is hosting a summit to help tackle the problem.

Representatives from local businesses, public and private sector organisations, health and social care, voluntary and community organisations and faith groups will take part in the forum at Wolverhampton Racecourse on Monday 10 November, 2014. There, they will analyse the problem and work together to develop solutions which can be implemented on a local or city wide basis.

National surveys estimate that some 69.8% of adults in Wolverhampton are overweight or obese, compared to a national average of 64%, while nearly a quarter of Year 6 pupils in Wolverhampton are obese, compared to just under a fifth of Year 6 pupils nationally.

Obesity is associated with a number of serious medical complications - from diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer, respiratory problems and liver disease to stress, anxiety, depression and infertility.

Councillor Sandra Samuels, Wolverhampton City Council's Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: "Being overweight or obese has a fundamental impact on people's lives, not only in terms of their health but also their quality of life.

"As well as having a very high proportion of overweight adults in the city, it's particularly worrying that so many of our young people are now becoming obese - meaning they are putting their health and wellbeing at risk at a very young age.

"We are determined to do all we can to reduce the problem here in Wolverhampton, and I'd call on organisations across the city to play a part at next month's summit so that we can begin the fight back before it's too late."

Director of Public Health Ros Jervis, who is hosting the summit, used her 2014 Annual Report entitled Weight? We Can't Wait! as a "call to action" for organisations, businesses and individuals to team up and help tackle the problem.

She said: "We are facing a perfect storm which is helping obesity become the norm for many people. Modern life has created a sedentary environment where high calorie food is always around, with plenty of fast food and offers on snacks and junk food, so it's no surprise that rates of obesity have more than doubled in the last 25 years.

"Unfortunately, while eating less and doing more exercise will help some people towards a healthy weight, it's not the complete solution.

"Instead, we need to change this obesogenic environment in which we live. That means reducing people's consumption of high calorie foods, increasing opportunities to exercise and working with fast food outlets to increase the range of healthy options available.

"It also means encouraging parenting skills and breastfeeding, and generally making eating well the norm, rather than the exception, by educating people about portion size and what's in their food and what it is doing to their bodies.

"Of course we cannot do this on our own, and that's why we are bringing together representatives from organisations across the city to discuss the problem and come up with workable solutions. By getting organisations like the NHS, the city council, schools, businesses and the voluntary sector to work together with communities, individuals and parents and families, we can make a real difference."

As well as debating the problem and suggesting possible solutions, delegates at next month's summit will be encouraged to make a pledge about what their organisation can do to help in the fight against obesity. These pledges will help to develop an action plan for the city.

Representatives from organisations which would like to attend the event on 10 November should visit Wolverhampton's Obseity Summit 2014 to reserve a place.

To read the Director of Public Health's Annual Report, please visit Weight? We Can't Wait!. For healthy living advice and tips, please visit the NHS's Change4Life website at NHS Change4Life.

  • released: Wednesday 15 October, 2014