Almost three quarters of adults in St Helens are overweight or obese, a new report has said.
A new joint report from St Helens Council, St Helens CCG and St Helens and Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, estimates that obesity costs the wider economy £47 million, with a £14.5 million strain on the NHS.
The report says that, based on the latest indicators Public Health England, 72.1 per cent of adults aged 18 and older in St Helens are estimated to be overweight or obese.
This places St Helens second out of 152 county and unitary authorities in England, and the highest percentage among all the North West’s authorities.
In addition, approximately 29 per cent of adults in St Helens do not meet physical activity recommendations, doing less than 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity per week.
Despite this, St Helens has the highest proportion of the population with nearby access to woodland in the North West of England.
Dr David Reade, chairman of the St Helens GP Federation, told members of the People’s Board the authority needs to come up with some “shocking solutions” to meet the obesity crisis.
Dr Reade said: “Why don’t we start charging people for using lifts?
“Let’s be shocking. Fit and healthy people who don’t have a disability should be charged for using lifts.
“That’s just a silly example but I think we do need to challenge people and we do need to perhaps – if our head is above the parapet – say look, enough is enough.
“We need to make these choices harder for people to take.”
The report also says that in 2016-17, 2.5 per cent of Reception children and 6 per cent of Year 6 children in St Helens were classed as severely obese.
Dr Reade said obese children are now considered the “norm”.
Professor Sarah O’Brien, the council’s strategic director of people’s services and clinical accountable officer for St Helens CCG, said children should be targeted in Year 6.
She said: “We really have got to try and tackle obesity in young children because if we don’t tackle that while they’re children and prevent that level of obesity in Year 6 then they are your future people with diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, cancer – because obesity really can lead to all of those problems.”