OVER half of all adults in the borough are classed as overweight and obese, while also being physically inactive. But health professionals are trying to fight the problem, HELENA VESTY reports.

THE percentage of physically active adults in the borough is getting worse, now standing at just 61.1 per cent of adults, according to Public Health England data for 2017 to 2018 — a slight increase on previous years.

Figures around the number of adults classed as overweight or obese are just as alarming. Some 62.9 per cent of adults in Bolton fall into the bracket and the number has been at that level for for the past three years.

Many young people in Bolton struggle with weight. Around one in six children aged 10 to 11 are considered overweight, including cases of severe obesity.

Being overweight can increase the risk of a plethora of health problems, including heart disease, type two diabetes and strokes.

But health professionals across the area are trying to stop the rise with a “message of hope”.

Ian Davies is the manager of NHS Bolton Foundation Trust’s health improvement practitioners.

The team carries out health checks on people aged over 40 and Mr Davies has found that weight is one of the main concerns for people they see at GP surgeries.

He said: “Obesity is one of the most frequent things that comes up during our sessions. We ask patients what they would like to do to get healthier, in order to help them make their own plan, and they always say they would like to lose weight.

“Our lives have changed over the last few years and we’re now set up for being physically inactive.

“We drive everywhere, our portion sizes have generally gone up and many of us work sat down at desks in offices. It’s hard for people when you can order a takeaway from your phone to your house in 15 minutes. That didn’t exist ten years ago."

Lifestyle changes, such as monitoring food intake and getting more exercise, are the key way to meet weight goals according to Mr Davies. He has found that once they are given the right tools, people are committed to their goals and with more than 40 Slimming World clubs in Bolton alone, it’s clear that the desire for change is there.

He said: “If you can reduce your body weight by around three to five per cent, that will have a big impact on what you go on to develop in the future if you’re at risk. It’s a message of hope. People are motivated to do something about it and people are now more aware of the dangers of obesity — you absolutely can lose the weight and reduce your risk."

The health improvement practitioners also point towards local community groups that will help people get outside, highlighting that getting active can work wonders for mental health. Mr Davies added: “It’s all about consuming less and moving more. Not only will losing weight improve physical health but it will have a knock on effect on mental wellbeing. People report feeling more energised and that their family relationships improve. It’s all related.”

He had this advice for getting started: “Having an end goal is helpful, having support is also really important. Lots of people are trying out community activities where there’s lots of support, like Couch to 5k and Parkrun. Even low impact activities, like walking football or gardening can help you start.”