Town leads the way in fighting obesity crisis

Dr Arif Rajpura, Coun Amy Cross, Robin Ireland and Nicky Dennison signing the declaration in the Council Chamber

Dr Arif Rajpura, Coun Amy Cross, Robin Ireland and Nicky Dennison signing the declaration in the Council Chamber

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Health chiefs in Blackpool are the first in the country to formally sign up to a charter to tackle the obesity crisis.

The council has led the way in joining the Food Active partnership made up of public health directors across the North West.

It means stepping up controls such as discouraging takeaways from opening near schools, promoting healthy alternatives to sugar-laded food and drink, and cracking down on inappropriate marketing of junk food.

Shocking figures released earlier this year revealed nearly three quarters of Blackpool residents aged over 16, and more than a third of 11-year-olds in the town are overweight or obese,

Being overweight contributes significantly to poor health.

Blackpool Council’s cabinet member for reducing health inequalities Amy Cross, along with public health director Dr Arif Rajpura, met with representatives from Food Active to put the council’s commitment down in writing by signing a giant pledge form.

Coun Cross said: “Obesity is a problem for all sections of society and this is no different in Blackpool.

“The connection between obesity and life-threatening illnesses like heart disease, type two diabetes and cancer is now apparent according to research and we are committed to working hard to make Blackpool residents healthier.

“Our work to promote healthy eating is already taking place, with our Gulp campaign encouraging pupils to swap sugary pop drinks for healthier alternatives.

“At the same time, giving primary school children a healthy breakfast every morning means we know they are being given the right foods regularly.

“As well as our own work, we will continue to lobby the Government to do more to reduce the lure of food and drinks laden with sugar, and to crack down on some of the inappropriate marketing of unhealthy foods that we see everywhere we turn.”

Robin Ireland, director of Food Active, said: “We all know how difficult it is to maintain a healthy weight and I am delighted to see Blackpool Council is doing everything it can to help its residents eat healthier and take more exercise.

“I hope other councils in the North West and across the country will now follow Blackpool’s example”.

A report by Dr Rajpura said obesity rates in Blackpool were increasing faster than the national average with approximately 83,500 adults being overweight, which is 72 per cent of the town’s population.