This site is intended for health professionals only

PCTs count the cost of bad diet and exercise

New figures out today show, for the first time, the cost of obesity to every Primary Care Trust in England.

The figures set out the cost of diseases related to being overweight or obese in 2007 and how much it will cost at a local level in 2015 if we take no action.

As last year's Foresight report highlighted, nationally the cost of being overweight or obese cost the NHS £4.2bn in 2007. This could rise to £6.3bn in 2015.

The figures are set out in a new Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives toolkit: A Toolkit for Developing Local Strategies, which is available to all primary care trusts and local authorities to help them tackle obesity in their areas and help their citizens live healthier lives.

The toolkit also gives advice on how local health professionals can support and help people in their areas to eat more healthily and be more active. It also uses research from the up coming Change4Life campaign to give insight into why families and parents find it difficult to live healthy lives.

Insight that the toolkit provides includes:

  • Just 11.5% of parents with overweight or obese children recognise it.
  • Parents underestimate how much unhealthy food and convenience food they buy as well as overestimating the amount of activity their children do.
  • Only 38% of adults know that obesity can lead to heart disease and only 6% know about the link of being overweight to cancer.
  • Many families use snacks as rewards, as fillers during times of boredom and to appease conflict.
  • Parents of older children are more worried about not feeding them enough and the risk of eating disorders such as anorexia.
  • Lack of knowledge, confidence and skills is the main barrier which stops parents cooking from scratch.

Change4Life is a new national movement which launches this autumn before a major publicity campaign starts in January. This movement will help people throughout England to live healthier, more active lives.

Public Health Minister Dawn Primarolo said: "Obesity is the biggest health challenge we face - every year 9,000 people die prematurely."

She added: "From this autumn we are aiming to change the way we all live our lives. The Change4Life campaign will help us all to change the way we eat, the way we exercise and the way we raise our children so we can prevent obesity and related diseases."

The Chief Medical Officer, Sir Liam Donaldson said: "Since I first spoke in my 2002 annual report of Obesity: The Health Time Bomb nothing has changed my mind about the seriousness of this threat to the country's future health.

"The link between obesity and preventable illnesses, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer is undeniable. In England almost two-thirds of adults and a third of children are either overweight or obese; without effective action this could rise to nine in 10 adults and two-thirds of children by 2050.

"I welcome the Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives toolkit, which will provide PCTs and local authorities with detailed support for the best approaches to tackling being overweight and obesity in local areas, and together with the Change4Life national campaign, can help us all live longer, and healthier lives."

The Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives: A toolkit for developing local strategies can be downloaded from here.

Anyone who wants to get involved with Change4Life should register here.

The latest Nursing in Practice survey is looking at wound care. Completing the survey will take just 5 minutes and the survey results will be reported in the November/December 2008 issue of Nursing in Practice magazine. There will also be a prize draw where four lucky winners will win £50 worth of Marks & Spencer vouchers.
Click here to take part

Will we be able to reverse the rising tide of obesity? What do you think? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"We can but I doubt the political will to make unpopular decisions: putting car exclusion zones round schools at pickup and dropoff times, building much more activity into the national curriculum, creating a hitlist of unhealthy products and starting a cigarette style campaign on them (warning labels, advertising ban, increased vat), requiring employers to take reasonable steps to support exercise in work time (paid exercise
breaks, setting up support groups)." - Seb, Chesterfield