RISING levels of obesity and heart disease in Gloucester need to be tackled urgently, city council bosses have said.
The city adopted it’s Heart City status in March 2011 for five years in collaboration with the British Heart Foundation.
But startling new figures show that one in ten children in the city’s reception classes are clinically obese, rising to 20 per cent of children in year six.
Almost 28 per cent of adults in Gloucester are classed as obese – significantly higher than the national average.
The Standard Mortality Ratio (SMR) for coronary heart disease in Gloucester is 108.1 compared to 100 for England.
Now Gloucester City Council bosses have pledged to support the British Heart Foundation through the city’s 10k run as well as promote health education in schools, businesses and the wider community.
Councillor Colin Organ, cabinet member for health and leisure, said: “With an ageing population we will have a significant proportion of the population that will be facing heart disease.
“The lead up to the arrival of the Rugby World Cup in the city provides the perfect opportunity to encourage more healthy lifestyles.”
Fellow councillor Fred Wood (C, Quedgeley Fieldcourt) said: “I am a bit worried about the figures we see in Gloucester. We are absolutely right to do this because our figures are above the national average.
“We should carry on supporting this initiative and do everything we can to encourage all age groups to lead healthy lifestyles.”
A three-year project called Hearty Lives is already under way in the city.
The £100,000, partnership project is designed to improve the heart health of people living in Gloucester.
A British heart Foundation spokesman said: “Gloucester was chosen to receive funding because rates of smoking, obesity and premature deaths from heart disease are higher than in the rest of the South West.
“The project will initially focus on the Podsmead area, with a hope to extend the scheme to neighbouring communities in the future.”
Dr Shona Arora, director of Public Health, said: “The funding from the British Heart Foundation is a fantastic opportunity to make a lasting difference to the heart health of local people.”
The project began in January and has set up community health initiatives and recruited volunteers who can spread healthy messages within the community.
Colleen Williams, from Longlevens who lost six stones in 2012 and appeared in slimming guru Rosemary Conley’s new book, was surprised that Gloucester was above the national average.
“When you are out in the city you do see people who are really overweight,” she said.
“But not any more than anywhere else, I would say.
“Gloucester has some poorer areas and it can be harder to eat healthily on a limited budget.”
Colleen, 40, lost the weight on a Rosemary Coneley programme.
“I would say it’s the best way because you can keep on top of it all the time,” she said.