THE amount of overweight adults and children is higher in Hartlepool than the national average but health chiefs say numerous efforts are in place to help tackle the problem.
Latest figures show almost a third of adults in town – 27.5 per cent – are classed as obese compared to the national average of 24.2 per cent.
In children, 24-3 per cent of 10 and 11-year-olds were found to be obese compared to 19.2 per cent nationally.
Hartlepool also falls down in the number of adults who exercise and healthy eating levels which are both below the national average.
As part of strategies by Hartlepool Borough Council and partners, a new service piloted this month aimed at reaching families to help tackle the issue.
The Families in it Together Hartlepool (Fiit Hart) has been developed by the council’s sport and recreation and public health teams after evidence suggested a family-based approach worked best.
Louise Wallace, the council’s director of public health, explained in a report how they are also working with parents before babies are born to increase breast feeding rates which it says are linked to lower levels of obesity for both mother and child.
The measures, and others, are part of the town’s Healthy Weight Healthy Lives programme.
Ms Wallace stated in the report: “The risk of not implementing a healthy weight strategy and its associated projects in the town may be that obesity levels in Hartlepool continue to rise in line with the national statistics.
“It is a key priority to narrow the gap and reduce health inequalities to bring obesity levels in Hartlepool in line and ultimately below the national average.”
For younger children aged four to five, the obesity level for 2011-12 was also higher than the national average at 9.9 per cent compared to 9.5 per cent.
Almost every child in town in reception classes and Year Six were measured as part of the National Child Measurement Programme.
In all they totalled more than 2,000 children checked.
Obesity is linked to health problems including diabetes, heart disease and cancer.