Fresh approach needed to tackle obesity crisis, urge Public Health Croydon
A fresh approach to obesity is needed after a decade of failure to tackle the epidemic, a report has concluded.
Sweeping action is required to halt "an intergenerational cycle" that has led to more than half of Croydon adults being overweight and children growing up seeing obesity as normal, public health experts warned.
More than 170,000 of adults in the borough are overweight and 38 per cent of children aged 10 or 11 are obese, according to Public Health Croydon.
It estimates the cost of the crisis to Croydon will hit £11.2m by 2015, a rise of 24 per cent in eight years.
The body's joint strategic needs assessment, published this week, warned current policies targeting individuals were inadequate and would not reverse the growing obesity problem.
The report, written by health improvement principal Anna Kitt and public health consultant Sarah Nicholls, said: "A difference approach is needed to tackle obesity, because after a decade of government and local intervention there are few signs of a significant reduction in obesity levels.
"Tackling obesity is complex and requires action at every level, from the individual to society, and across all sectors."
It added: "In Croydon, there is an intergenerational cycle of obesity whereby child obesity tracks into adulthood and is associated with several physical and psychological comorbidities.
"This suggests that the next generation is likely to experience increased rates of morbidity and mortality if the obesity problem is not addressed."
Public Health Croydon, which became part of Croydon Council last year, called for the implementation an overarching strategy that would see obesity taken into account across council departments including planning, transport and education.
It recommendations include disadvantaged people's need for exercise being taken into account when considering planning applications, a school-building programme prioritising recreational space and attractive dining facilities, and help with weight management for women before and after pregnancy.
A Croydon Council spokesman said its health and wellbeing board would review the recommendations.
He added: "In the last year child obesity rates have stabilised and are beginning to fall.
"However we're not complacent, and we are tackling the issue with a community-wide approach, including partnership working for healthier workplaces, and healthier schools."
Last month the council announced plans to launch 12-week weight management courses for children aged between four and 12.
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