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More than two-thirds of adults living in Dartford are overweight or obese with Gravesham fairing only a little better

More than two-thirds of adults living in Dartford are overweight or obese, new data has revealed.

Figures released by Public Health England show how local authorities across England weighed in.

In Dartford, 68.1% of people over 18 were classed as overweight or obese, the third highest percentage in Kent and also above the national average of 64.6%.

Gravesham fared only slightly better, with 65.9% of adults deemed overweight or obese.

The borough came eighth in a table of 13 local authorities across the county.

The statistics, based on Body Mass Index (BMI), come just a month after it was revealed more obese children live in Dartford and Gravesham than anywhere else in Kent.

More than one in five Year 6 children, aged 10 and 11, and one in 10 Reception year youngsters, aged four and five, in the two boroughs were obese.

This is both higher than the county and national average.

Dartford MP Gareth Johnson
Dartford MP Gareth Johnson

However, the latest figures for adults were met with some skepticism by Dartford MP Gareth Johnson (Con).

He said: “I find the suggestion that more than two-thirds of adults in Dartford are overweight or obese surprising.

“I often find that people who look perfectly normal to me are categorised as overweight.

“While a healthy lifestyle is of course preferable, we must make sure that we don’t fall into the trap of demonising people who don’t shape up to the so-called skinny celebrity profile.”

The impact of expanding waistlines is said to be putting a strain on the NHS, with those who are overweight more likely to have long-term health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease.

Health bosses locally are now looking at how to best tackle the problem.

Dr Bhaskar Bora, chairman of the Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “There are a number of clinical and social reasons which can lead to people becoming overweight or obese.

Dr Bhaskar Bora
Dr Bhaskar Bora

“But it is often associated with areas of deprivation. Those out of work or with mobility problems may end up spending most of their time indoors.

“They may have poor diets, eating too many ready-made convenience foods instead of meals with fresh fruit and vegetables. Cutting down on sugar, salt and alcohol will make a huge improvement to anyone’s health. Little changes can make a big difference.”

Dr Bora added that people also needed to be encouraged to be more physically active.

Dartford was marginally beaten into third place by Swale, where 68.8% of adults are deemed to be fat, and Thanet with 68.4%

The area with the lowest percentage in Kent was Canterbury, at 54.2%.

The town with the highest number of overweight or obese adults nationwide was Copeland in west Cumbria, with 75.9%.

Scoring the lowest nationwide out of 326 local authorities was the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, where 45.9% are overweight or obese.

Dr Graham Bickler, Public Health England centre director for Kent, Surrey and Sussex, said the data will enable local authorities to understand the extent of the problem in their area and how to improve it.

“There is no silver bullet to reducing obesity,” he said. “It is an issue that requires action at national, local, family and individual level.”

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