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Drive to get Wolverhampton exercising as two thirds of city deemed overweight

Health bosses in Wolverhampton are launching a new inititative to combat the high rate of physical inactivity in the city, with a view to encouraging more people to take gentle daily exercise.

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The county has been shown to be above average in the rate of obese adults according to Public Health England.

The council’s Public Health annual report for 2020-21 revealed 35.8 per cent of local residents were inactive and did less than 30 minutes physical activity per week. It also stated 67.4 per cent of adults over 18 were classified as overweight or obese.

Although the statistics were greatly impacted by Covid-19 and lockdown restrictions – making it difficult or impossible for a lot of people to exercise – health chiefs say more still needs to be done to get people moving.

An update on the issue is due to be presented to the council’s health and wellbeing together forum next week, when the formation of a new physical inactivity steering group is set to be approved.

In a report to members, health improvement officer Hettie Pigott said: “Wolverhampton has high levels of physical inactivity across all life stages.

“Not only are there inequalities in those who are more likely to be inactive – women and girls, those from low socio-economic groups, people living with a disability or long-term health condition, older adults and people from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic backgrounds – those who are inactive have an increased risk of a range of non-communicable diseases.

“Physical inactivity is defined as adults undertaking less than 30 minutes of moderately intense physical activity a week and children and young people on average undertaking less than 30 minutes a day.

“While increasing the activity levels of all adults who are not meeting the

recommendations is important, targeting those adults who are significantly inactive will produce the greatest reduction in chronic disease.”

Membership of the steering group will consist of representatives from the council, Active Black Country (chair), Black Country and West Midlands clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), Primary Care, the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust, Wolverhampton Health Watch, Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council, Wolverhampton Homes, Social Prescribing and the Children and Families Together Board.

Physical inactivity costs the UK £7.4 billion a year and directly contributes to one in six deaths – making it the fourth largest cause of disease and disability in Britain.

“If physical inactivity trends carry on at their current rate, the increased cost of health and social care will destabilise public services and will have a negative

impact on the quality of life of individuals and communities,” said Ms Piggot.

“Being physically inactive increases the likelihood of depression, some

cancers, diabetes and dementia. Reducing physical inactivity could prevent up to 40 per cent of long-term health conditions.”

A meeting of the council’s Hybrid, Health and Wellbeing Together forum will discuss the report next Wednesday.