Health & Fitness Obesity-related illnesses ‘could overwhelm NHS unless urgent action taken’
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Sixteen states including Alabama, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, and West Virginia had adult obesity rates of at least 35% in 2020, according to new CDC maps.More than one-third of adults in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia were dangerously overweight in 2020, according to the data released on Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Urgent action is needed to tackle stark inequalities in rates of obesity and-related illness and prevent the NHS from being overwhelmed, according to analysis by The King’s Fund.
New analysis by the think tank highlights a significant increase in obesity in thein recent years, leading to a widening gap between the richest and poorest parts of the country. People in the most deprived areas are also more than twice as likely to be admitted to hospital for obesity related health problems.
The majority of adults in England are now overweight or obese, according to the findings, which are drawn from a range of sources including data published by NHS Digital, Public Health England and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
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In 2019, 64 per cent of adults in England were overweight, with 28 per cent being obese and 3 per cent morbidly obese. The gap in obesity rates between women from the most and least deprived areas is 17 percentage points, up from 11 percentage points in 2014, whilst for men the deprivation gap is 8 points, an increase from just 2 points in 2014.
Meanwhile, childhood obesity rates follow a similar pattern: for children in Year 6, the gap increased from 8.5 to 13.3 percentage points between 2006/7 and 2019/20. The gap in overweight and obesity rates between children from the least and most affluent families in the UK is larger than any EU country – 26 points compared to the EU average of 8 percentage points.
Last year there were over one million hospital admissions linked to obesity in England, an increase of 17 per cent compared to 2018/19. Rates of obesity related hospital admissions in the most deprived parts of the country are 2.4 times higher than in the least deprived areas.
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In 2014/15 the NHS spent £6.1bn on treating obesity-related ill health, a figure that is forecast to rise to £9.7bn per year by 2050 highlighting how much of an impact rising rates of obesity has on the health service.
Areas the with highest rates of obesity tend to be clustered around urban areas in the. These differences in obesity rates translate to worse health outcomes for people living in those areas and contribute to deepening health inequalities across the country.
While some individual policies by recent governments have been successful, they have fallen short of the cross-cutting approach needed, the analysis concludes. Much more needs to be done to improve the availability of affordable, healthy food for people in deprived areas and support them to eat well and take regular exercise.
Richard Murray, Chief Executive of The King’s Fund, said: “Our analysis lays bare a deep and widening gap in the rates of obesity between the richest and poorest parts of the country, with women in our most deprived communities faring particularly poorly. Given the serious health risks that come with obesity and the significant cost to the NHS, this is exacerbating shocking inequalities in health and will only add extra pressure on the NHS.
“People in deprived areas can face significant barriers to accessing affordable, healthy food and taking regular exercise and there is much more the NHS can do to support people to make healthier choices and target services where they are needed most. If levelling up is to mean anything, the new Secretary of State must put tackling the obesity crisis and reducing health inequalities at the top of his agenda.”
The Department of Health and Social Care was approached for comment.
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