Council and schools in meetings to make plans to tackle Hartlepool's obesity crisis

Plans are being put in place to tackle Hartlepool's obesity crisis, council chiefs have said.

Wednesday, 29th May 2019, 13:21 pm
One of the obesity workshops held at the Centre for Independent Living in Hartlepool.

Representatives of Hartlepool Borough Council, health services, primary schools and private sector employers have held the first of several meetings to look at adopting a ‘whole system’ approach to the problem.

Council chiefs say this means working in a completely co-ordinated way across a variety of sectors including health, social care, planning, business and leisure to identify opportunities to support individuals at key points throughout their lives to help reduce the occurrence and impact of obesity.

Plans are being put in place in Hartlepool to tackle the town's obesity problem. Picture by PA.

The ultimate aim is to spark a social movement under the banner of the town’s current ‘Love Hartlepool’ campaign, inspiring local people to help and encourage each other to lead healthier, more active lives.

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That means 40.6% of Hartlepool’s youngsters are unhealthily overweight when they finish primary school, the 13th highest nationwide.

Across England, 4.2% of 10 and 11-year-olds are severely obese, which is a record high, while 34.3% are classed overweight or obese.

Pat Riordan, the council’s director of public health, said: “Tackling obesity in Hartlepool remains a top priority.

“Being overweight and obese can have a very bad impact on your health and is linked to a string of serious health conditions – for example, over half of all diabetes patients in Hartlepool are also obese.

“The causes of obesity are wide and complex, ranging from biological and individual lifestyle factors to social and community factors and living and working conditions.

“We have all had some good successes, such as the increasing numbers of employers signing up for the Better Health at Work Award, but moving forward we need a new way of tackling this challenge and working together in a completely co-ordinated way is the best option.

“Over the next few months, we will be broadening the scope of our discussions to involve more organisations, businesses and groups across the town so that working together under the ‘Love Hartlepool’ banner we can make a bigger difference and support and inspire people of all ages to enjoy healthier lives.”

Neil McAvoy, deputy head teacher of Clavering Primary School, which was among the schools taking part in the first meeting at the town’s Centre for Independent Living, said: “There’s a lot of great work being done already but what we are looking to do now is to bring everyone together to tackle this issue.

“Obesity can have a negative impact on every aspect of people’s lives – physical, social and mental – but there is the potential for us all to do something great here and now is the time under the Love Hartlepool banner.”

Any organisations and groups interested in finding out more about the initiative should contact the council on 01429 523733 or email eileen.larkin@hartlepool.gov.uk