Home » Inside Britain’s ‘fattest town’ where most people are overweight

Inside Britain’s ‘fattest town’ where most people are overweight

Wigan is Britain’s obesity capital with almost 40 percent of the town’s population considered obese, figures show. More than 70 percent of people in the Greater Manchester town are overweight, with a body mass index (BMI) more than 25.

According to the NHS if you have a BMI of between 25 and 30 you are overweight, with anything over 30 considered obese. An average 26 percent of the UK’s population is obese, government figures show.

Male life expectancy in Wigan, which hosts the World Pie Eating Championships, is 77 years, almost two years lower than the national average.

The local authority has schemes in place to help people lose weight, including exercise and nutrition classes for families.

Wigan is symbolic of a wider problem, with the average weight of a man in this country increasing by a stone between 1993 and 2019 to 13.4 stones.

The average weight of a woman has gone from 10.5 stones to 11.4 stones over the same period, mean average figures from the NHS show.

Of the G7 countries, Britain has a higher rate of obesity in adults than France, Germany, Italy and Japan. The advertising and availability of junk food and volume of processed foods in supermarkets have both been identified as fuelling a crisis which is putting great strain on the NHS.

Researchers at the Institute for Public Policy Research cited by the Telegraph estimated the annual cost to the UK economy at £100billion. Obesity has also been blamed in part for Britain’s issue with worklessness.

Sophie Metcalfe from the Institute for Government told the Telegraph while not all of Britain’s economic inactivity is due to obesity, it is certainly true that if a country has a population with higher obesity, more people will be long term sick and unable to work.

The Government says it is taking “strong action” to tackle obesity, including the introduction of a soft drinks industry levy which it says has removed the equivalent of more than 45,000 tonnes of sugar from soft drinks since it was brought in.

Calorie labelling, £600million in funding towards children’s sport and new weight loss drugs being offered on the NHS are also among the measures taken.

Myths still remain over obesity and whether it is a disease or self-inflicted. A recent survey by digital health care provider for medically assisted weight loss, Yazen Health, revealed over a third of Brits (37 percent) believe obesity is a lifestyle choice rather than a disease.

They also think the main barriers to keeping a healthy weight include motivation (45 percent), laziness (43 percent), and personal choice (33 percent) or genetics (33 percent).

But healthcare professionals disagree and believe obesity is a disease, an abnormal condition which negatively affects normal bodily function and health.

Meanwhile, researchers recently suggested the threshold for detecting obesity should be lowered for middle-aged and older people.

A study found body composition changes in later life could lead to people carrying a higher level of body fat at a lower BMI. But academics said lowering this threshold could detect more people who are at risk of developing obesity-related illnesses such as type 2 diabetes.

The study, led by researchers at the University of Rome Tor Vergata, the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, and the Beirut Arab University in Lebanon, included 4,800 Italian adults aged 40 to 80.

The group was categorised according to current World Health Organisation BMI standards. Like the NHS, the WHO classifies people with a BMI of 30 or more as obese.

Some 1,087 were of normal weight; 1,826 were overweight with a BMI of more than 25 and 1,887 were obese with a BMI 30 or more. Using a body scanner, researchers then re-categorised people based on their age and body fat percentage.

They found the proportion of people classed as obese in the group rose when body fat percentage was taken into account. Some 38 percent of men and 40 percent of women in the study had a BMI of 30 or more by WHO’s standards.

When body fat percentage was factored in, this jumped to 71 percent of men and 64 percent of women.

The analysis suggested the ideal BMI cut-off point for obesity in older adults was 27, with an accuracy rate of 90 percent. However, researchers stressed the limitations to the study, which has been presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice.

It was carried out in one area of Italy, with factors such as eating habits, exercise and sleep patterns not factored in.