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Last Updated: Friday, 29 April, 2005, 19:45 GMT 20:45 UK
Diabetes fear over obese children
Image of parent walking children to school
Obesity among schoolchildren is an increasing problem
More than three times as many children in the East suffer from obesity than 20 years ago, a new health report says.

One of the region's top public health figures has given a stark warning over the serious consequences for health if the rising trend is not tackled.

Dr Tony Jewell, director of public health at Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambs Strategic Health Authority issued a warning on the day new figures emerged.

"The obesity epidemic risks reversing health gains made over 30 years."

The leading public health campaigner said much work had been done in treating circulatory diseases but this was in danger of being undone.

"Obesity - which has almost tripled in the last 20 years - is causing an alarming rise in diabetes, which can be a devastating condition.

"More action is needed to ensure the NHS is not swamped by the health implications of obesity and resultant diabetes."

In the USA one in three people are obese and 10% of the population are diabetic
Dr Tony Jewell

The SHA is leading a new nationally funded drive to tackle the problem working mainly through primary care trusts across the three counties.

The aim is to improve diabetes detection, identify at risk patients and provide advice on diet and physical activity. In the case of parents they are also advising on smoking and its effects.

Dr Jewell said: "The causes of obesity are a society-wide problem, but it is the NHS which will have to pick up the bill.

"Over the coming months and years we will be looking to work more closely with local government and other partners to develop prevention strategies, especially aimed at young people.

"There are an estimated 1.4 million people in the UK with diabetes and another 1m undiagnosed.

"In the USA one in three people are obese and 10% of the population are diabetic. The UK is thought to be following this trend."


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