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Crawley among worst in country for obesity and STIs

By Crawley News  |  Posted: October 20, 2013

By Chris Ballinger

  • TOO MUCH JUNK IN THE TRUNK: The report's statistics suggest Crawley's obesity problem is more down to diet and junk food than exercise

  • GET OUT MORE: Andrew Chase of Chase Fitness

  • MAKING SACRIFICES: Andy Chase, who sold his sports car to help finance his business Chase Fitness, wherein he works primarily with youngsters with special needs, pictured with some of the equipment in the storeroom of his building at the entrance to the Ifield Playing Field, on Rusper Road in Ifield, Crawley on Monday REAH20110418E-006_C.jpg

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MORE than one in four adults in Crawley is obese and the town is among the worst in the country for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), according to a Government report.

This is the shocking conclusion of a report examining the state of the town's health, which ranks Crawley as being "significantly worse" for adult obesity and STIs than the English average.

The figures are from Public Health England in its annual snapshot of the nation's health.

Crawley's Health Profile 2013 estimates 28.4 per cent of people aged 16 and over are obese. This is defined as having a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or greater. The national average is 24.2 per cent.

Obesity is not just rife among adults. In the final year of primary school, 19.2 per cent of Year 6 pupils – aged 10 and 11 – are classified as obese.

Andrew Chase, who runs Chase Fitness, based in Rusper Road, Ifield Green, said video games are a major cause of this. He said: "These figures do not surprise me. Fast food and sugary treats are too easy for children to get.

"But even more of an issue is modern technology. Computer games are a bigger attraction than ever and I find children would rather sit in front of a TV playing a game, including sport games, than be active outside."

Crawley Wellbeing, the council's service which encourages healthy lifestyles, helps those referred by GPs as obese to shed the pounds. People aged between 20 and 83 have taken part.

Matt Lethbridge, Crawley Wellbeing manager, said: "For the last five years, we have run a weight-management programme called Weight Off Workshop (WOW) for GP surgeries. This 12-week course offers people classified as obese with nutritional advice and physical activity."

Crawley Wellbeing also runs a purely exercise-based course called Active Life and Teen WOW for 11 to 16-year-olds.

Mr Lethbridge added: "Reaching teenagers is a challenge. At that age you do not want to accept fitness issues but we are making progress."

In terms of sexual health, Crawley is also among the worst. There were 983 medical treatments for STIs in the town in 2012, a rate of 918 per 100,000 in the population – much higher than the national average rate of 804.

And Crawley has a higher than average percentage of smokers, with 21.2 per cent of over-18s taking up the habit, compared to the national average of 20 per cent.

But expectant mums appear to be more responsible, with 9.7 per cent saying they still smoked compared to 13.3 per cent nationally.

The statistics suggest Crawley's adult obesity issue is linked more to diet than exercise. While 58 per cent of residents take part in at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week – the national average is 56 per cent – only 26.1 per cent eat healthily.

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