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Level of need in the population

Background papers: Lifestyle and wider determinants :: Healthy weight [Update in progress] :: Obesity :: Level of need in the population

The Government has determined a new ambition for adult obesity in its Obesity Call to Action: 'a downward trend in the level of excess weight averaged across all adults by 2020'.

Synthetic estimates of obesity are available for Medway (see table 5). These are based on a statistical model which applies the local demographic characteristics of each local authority in England to the results of the Health Survey for England between 2006 and 2008.

  Prevalence (%) Lower limit (%) Upper limit (%) Significance
England 24.2 23.6 24.7
South East GOR 23.7 22.2 25.3 Not significantly different to England
Medway 30.0 28.7 31.4 Significantly worse than England
Table 1: Estimated prevalence of obesity, percentage of resident population, people aged 16 years and over, 2006-2008[1]

The most recent version of the Sport England Active People Survey, conducted between January 2012 and January 2013, contained questions on self-reported height and weight for the very first time. A total of 422 people in Medway were questioned, of which, 22.8% were obese (compared to 23% across England) and 66.1% were either obese or overweight[2]. It is helpful to have local prevalence figures but as this survey is relatively new, the results should be interpreted with a degree of caution until it is possible to validate them by comparing with subsequent years.

During pregnancy and childbirth obesity presents a series of health risks to the foetus, the infant and the mother. Obesity in pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of serious adverse outcomes including miscarriage, foetal congenital anomaly, thromboembolism, gestational diabetes, pre-eclampsia, dysfunctional labour, postpartum haemorrhage, wound infections, stillbirth and neonatal death. There is also a higher caesarean section rate and lower breastfeeding rate in this group of women compared with women with a healthy BMI.[3] Obesity in pregnancy also increases the risk of the child becoming over-weight and of developing type 2 diabetes.


[1]   Association of Public Health Observatories. Data for 2012 Health Profiles, Obese Adults 2012;
[2]   Public Health England. Health ProfilesPublic Health England. .
[3]   Department of Health. Healthy lives, healthy people: a call to action on obesity in England 2011; Department of Health. .