Health boss: Gluttony and sloth must be addressed

We live in an obesogenic environment which makes it very easy for people to be fat, says Dr Peter Barker
We live in an obesogenic environment which makes it very easy for people to be fat, says Dr Peter Barker

We’re too fat, we eat unhealthily and we smoke too much. Now a public health boss says it’s time for change.

A series of profiles revealing the state of health in our towns have been released by Public Health England.

The 2014 Health Profiles show obesity in adults and children, low life expectancy and high levels of smoking are problems in several of our boroughs.

Public health bosses have pledged to tackle the problems with a plan to help people lose weight, live healthier lifestyles, improve their mental health and give up smoking.

Here are the reports for Corby, East Northants, Kettering and Wellingborough.

In 2013, public health became the responsibility of Northamptonshire County Council.

The authority appointed Dr Peter Barker, consultant in public health, to help analyse the problems and come up with solutions.

He said he believes that some of the county’s biggest problems – obesity and diabetes – are preventable with the correct intervention.

Dr Barker said: “As a county, we’re pretty fat.

“It’s an amazing statistic that two-thirds of adults are overweight and a quarter are classed as obese.

“If you look at pictures of the general public from the 1970s they were a lot slimmer. The amount of calories eaten at home is not actually that different.

“The main difference is people eat out a lot more. If people took exercise as part of their daily routine and ate more vegetables and fruit then they would be healthier.

“I say it’s a combination of gluttony and sloth.

“We live in an obesogenic environment which makes it very easy for people to be fat. ”

Dr Barker said obesity is a direct cause of diabetes, which could also be avoided with a healthier lifestyle.

He said: “If you look at the places where obesity is a problem then you also find high levels of diabetes.”

Corby has the worst under-75 mortality rate from cancer in the country.

And Dr Barker said four out of 10 deaths could be prevented by lifestyle changes including eating a balanced diet, exercising and giving up smoking.

This year, the top priority for health bosses is adult wellbeing.

Dr Barker said: “We’ve put out a tender which would see new, non-medicalised clinics introduced in existing buildings in our communities.”

The clinics would offer one-stop shops for adults who want to increase their levels of physical activity, help them lose weight, give up smoking or tackle low-level mental health issue.

The clinics would be more accessible than doctor’s surgeries and would be run by those specially trained to help.

Should schools ban sugary drinks?

In all of our boroughs, the GCSE attainment of children is worse than the national average, along with the number of mums who smoke at the time of delivering their child.

In Corby, a fifth of year six children are classed as obese and the number of under-18s who have their own babies is significantly worse than the England average.

Dr Peter Barker said that children should be encouraged to live healthier lifestyles at home and at school.

He said: “For the first time, children being born today will actually have a lower life expectancy than this generation because of obesity.

“We have a big problem with giving children sugary drinks.

“There’s a distinction between sugar in drink which gets into the system much quicker and the slower release they get from eating a piece of fruit.

“We’ve seen great results from schools in other areas banning sugary drinks in schools and this is something we’re looking at for the future in Northamptonshire.”