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Obesity rates are rising fast whilst people remain inactive, NHS data shows

An NHS report warns of a ‘rising tide’ of obesity as 1 in 4 British adults are not getting enough physical exercise nor eating enough fruit and vegetables.

New NHS figures released last week revealed that whilst a quarter of UK adults did less than 30 minutes of physical activity a week last year, nearly seven in 10 men are overweight or clinically obese.

Levels of inactivity fluctuated depending on employment. 37 per cent of those who had been unemployed for a long time or had never worked reported being physically inactive, compared to just 17 per cent of those working within managerial, administrative and professional occupations. Geography also plays a part in levels of obesity and inactivity.

Adam Hamilton functional health director at Healthcare RM said: “As we have seen a rise in inactivity and poor nutrition over the past hundred years or so, it is no surprise that this trend has continued as our lifestyles have changed. But that’s not to say we should continue in this way – it’s never too late to start eating more healthily and having a more active lifestyle.”

According to the data from NHS Digital, inactivity levels between men and women also varied, with 27 per cent of female respondents being physically inactive in comparison to 24 per cent of men. In 2015, 58 per cent of women and 68 per cent of women were classed as overweight or obese. Obesity prevalence also increased from 15 per cent in 1993 to 27 per cent in 2015 and the cause of 525,000 hospital admissions during 2015/16.

In addition, just 26 per cent of adults ate the recommended five daily portions of fruit and vegetables in 2015. Just over 40 per cent of men and women admitted to eating fewer than three portions a day.

In February, The Guardian reported that 10 portions of fruit and vegetables a day cut the risk of premature death.

The NHS report follows recommendations by Public Health England for food manufacturers to cut sugar by 20 per cent by 2020 and by 5 per cent during this year.

But Hamilton insisted good nutrition was not just about cutting sugar from processed food. “We should be focusing on cutting out processed food from our diet altogether and eating more natural and wholesome foods on a regular basis.”

He added: “In terms of being more active, it’s important to do some kind of regular activity over the week. Being active every day means taking regular, active breaks from the workstation and moving about as much as possible. Individuals exercising for 30 minutes at a time, five times a week just isn’t enough – it won’t undo 40 plus hours of sitting. As a rule, it’s best to move about as much as possible and break sitting down into hourly chunks.”

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