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Last Updated: Monday, 29 December, 2003, 06:47 GMT
Obesity 'timebomb' threatens NHS
Alun Pugh
Keen cyclist Alun Pugh wants Wales to follow a healthy path
The National Health Service in Wales could be "overwhelmed by a tidal wave of obesity", according to the Welsh Sports Minister, Alun Pugh.

Mr Pugh has warned that Wales is one of the least active countries in Europe and that exercise habits must change to prevent a future explosion of obesity-related illnesses swamping the Welsh NHS.

Mr Pugh claims that Wales is one of the most unhealthy nations in Europe and the lack of exercise taken by a large section of the Welsh population is a "potential timebomb" underneath the NHS.

According to research, fewer than 30% of Welsh people take any exercise.

Mr Pugh was speaking ahead of a sport and exercise summit with health experts, which is due to take place next month.
We must tackle bad habits early on
Dr Simon Fradd

Mr Pugh said that the NHS in Wales could be "overwhelmed by a tidal wave of obesity driven by sickness".

He added: "Only 28% of our adult population take exercise, obesity levels are growing to epidemic levels and obesity is a significant cause of diabetes, cancer and heart disease.

"This is a potential timebomb under our health service.

"The costs of inactivity in Wales are around 100m a year, and are set to grow.

"Wales is one of the least active parts of the whole of Europe.

Person on weighing scales
There are warnings that obesity levels are rising in Wales
"We are even less active that the English - let alone healthy nations such as Finland."

Dr Simon Fradd is Chairman of Developing Patient Partnerships which has published a survey into the attitudes of 11 to 15 year olds towards obesity.

He said two thirds of this age group said they did care about their weight and wanted to know how to control it, but at the same time obesity had "doubled in 10 years in this group."

"This raises questions about the development of diabetes and other diseases," he said.

"I really do think we have to grapple with health education for young people so they know about healthy lifestyles in general.

"You can't just change things with leaflets it needs to change from the cradle.

" We must tackle bad habits early on," he added.

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