Almost one in 10 people from Derry and Strabane are registered as obese, shocking new statistics reveal.
Figures released for 2015 show that there were 15,736 adults and children living in the local council area who were on the Obesity Register, with other data suggesting tens of thousands more are overweight.
Derry and Strabane has the third highest prevalence of obesity in people aged 16 and over from among the 11 councils areas across the North, with 117 people for every thousand in this age bracket considered obese.
The area with the highest rates of obesity in the North is Causeway, Coast and Glens Council area, taking in the Limavady borough.
The second highest, Fermanagh & Omagh Council area, like Derry & Strabane also lies within the Western Health Trust and Social Care Trust’s geographical remit.
The overall obesity rates and the prevalence among those aged 16 across Derry and the rest of the west are noticeably higher than the Northern Ireland average.
Despite this however, the rates have actually dropped slightly in the city and district over the past year.
This is against a backdrop of a growing number of fitness camps and clubs, and increased use of fitness suites locally, as well as more awareness campaigns by health officials around eating and fitness, and the creation of more infrastructure for activities such as walking, running and cycling.
Further data reveals that six people in Derry and Strabane have died from obesity between 2010 and 2014, out of a total of 68 such tragedies in the North.
In terms of school children meanwhile, the latest available evidence dating from 2012 shows that in the Western Trust area 22.50% of Primary 1 children were overweight or obese, almost one in four.
At secondary school level this rises to around one in three children among Year 8s (First Year) in the Western Trust, with 30.32% obese or overweight.
The same statistics show that in the Western Trust area, girls were more likely to be overweight than boys in primary school, although the figures are roughly the same for boys and girls by Year 8.
At the other end of the scale, an average of at least one child in every class (3.66%) is considered underweight, with boys more likely to be underweight than girls.
The Western Health and Social Care Trust last recently staged a number of roadshows across the Trust area during Obesity Awareness Week.
Lesley Finlay, Western Trust Health Improvement Department’s Physical Activities Coordinator said the aim was to encourage everyone to be more physically active and to eat healthier.
“Obesity prevention is not about making huge lifestyle changes; it’s about making manageable changes which are easy to stick to.”