Obesity up despite more exercising

Cardiovascular disease still on the rise despite an increase in healthy lifestyles.

People in England are slowly starting to adopt the healthy lifestyle measures advocated by the DoH, but rates of obesity-related diseases continue to rise, according to figures from the Health Survey for England 2006.

The latest audit from the NHS Information Centre shows that the obesity epidemic is moving closer to becoming a reality.

Of over 14,000 adults questioned, 24 per cent were obese with a BMI of 30 or over. This figure was around 15 per cent in 1993.

Three per cent of women and 1 per cent of men in the survey were morbidly obese and waist measurements showed 41 per cent of women and 32 per cent of men had central adiposity.

Of more than 7,000 children involved in the study, 17.3 per cent of boys and 14.7 per cent of girls were obese. Figures from 1995 show 10.9 per cent of boys and 12 per cent of girls were obese.

As expected, more people are suffering from chronic conditions linked to the metabolic syndrome.

Diabetes rates have doubled since 1994, with 5.6 per cent of men and 4.2 per cent of women diagnosed.

Around one adult in seven has some form of cardiovascular disease. A breakdown of the figures shows the rate of stroke has gone from 1.6 per cent in 1994 to 2.2 per cent in 2006 for women and from 1.8 to 2.4 per cent for men.

However, IHD levels have remained roughly the same since 1994, with 6.5 per cent of men and 4 per cent of women having IHD in 2006.

This is all despite a growing minority of adults doing at least 30 minutes' physical activity five days a week - with levels in men rising from 32 per cent in 1997 to 40 per cent today, and from 21 to 28 per cent in women.

But at the same time, both adults and children are now more likely to eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Although the figure is still very poor, with just 28 per cent of men, 32 per cent of women and around 20 per cent of children meeting this minimum requirement.

At the same time, data from the Information Centre shows that the number of prescriptions written for anti-obesity drugs has increased eight-fold since 1999, with 1.06 million scrips written in 2006.

Binge drinking still appears to be strong with little change in alcohol habits since 1998.

A reported 41 per cent of men and 33 per cent of women drank more than the recommended amount.

Dr Ian Campbell, medical director of the charity Weight Concern and a GP in Nottingham, said: 'As a profession we've lost sight of the importance of lifestyle in preventing disease.

'It's best to let some time pass and see if lifestyle measures work before reaching for the prescription pad,' he said.

By discussing how to make healthy lifestyle changes GPs can 'shift some of the responsibility back on to the patient'.

rachel.liddle@haymarket.com

Health Survey for England 2006

ENGLAND'S DISEASE PROFILE
Disease Men Women
CVD 13.6% 13.0%
IHD or stroke 8.1% 5.6%
Hypertension 31.0% 28.0%
Diabetes 5.6% 4.2%
Overweight/obese (BMI) 67.0% 56.0%
Abdominally obese 41.0%

32.0%

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