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Health boss says obesity 'bigger health impact than Covid' long term

The long-term impact of obesity could be greater than the Covid pandemic, a public health director has said.

Ansaf Azhar said the rising problem had been exacerbated by falling activity levels since the pandemic.

The Oxfordshire County Council health director said those most affected were from deprived areas.

Mr Azhar said he was working to make physical activity easier to access, particularly for children, as well as providing education about health food.

About 58% of Oxfordshire's adults are overweight or obese according to the latest government figures.

The average for England is 64%.

Mr Azhar said: "This has the potential to cause a bigger health impact than the Covid pandemic itself," but added that it would over a much longer time period.

"If you have a generally iller population, that's not good for the residents, it's not good for productivity, it's not good for the economy.'"

The public health director said people's lifestyles had "significantly changed" as they came out of the pandemic, becoming "more sedentary".

He added that a third of local Year 6 children were also overweight or obese.

The county council has previously launched a free 12-week weight management programme for children and families.

Sue Pearce, who attends the Gloji Energy scheme in Didcot with her granddaughter Lily Mae, said: "It's really difficult in the busy-ness of the day to find space to figure it out yourself.

"It's not talking about weight or weighing. It's all really positive and being sensible. So the ice cream we have every day, absolutely fine."

Mr Azhar said a partnership approach, involving authorities and employers, was needed to promote healthy, affordable food, active transport and green spaces.

Source: BBC News Online



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