Public health chief’s pledge to tackle obesity in Norfolk

Lucy Macleod, joint interim director of public health, at Norfolk County Council.

Lucy Macleod, joint interim director of public health, at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Archant

The new head of public health in Norfolk yesterday pledged to make tackling obesity the top priority as health services move into a new era next week.

From April 1, the budget for projects to improve people's health and wellbeing will move from primary care trusts to county councils. The transfer is part of a major government reform of the NHS, which will result in county councils being in charge of public health budgets for the first time in almost 40 years.

At Norfolk County Council, a team of 60 health experts and office staff are in place at County Hall to ensure that £29.8m in 2013/14 - £34 per head of the population - is spent wisely on projects that will help get residents more active and reduce levels of obesity.

The council's new public health brief also involves sexual health services, drug and alcohol services, and ongoing campaigns urging people to stop smoking.

Lucy Macleod, joint interim director of public health at Norfolk County Council, said funding into early intervention and prevention projects was working.

'Death rates from coronary and heart disease are going down every year and life expectancy is increasing. There is still a long way to go and when you tackle one problem another one emerges and priorities change year after year.'

'My professional view is that obesity is the biggest public health problem we are facing. It leads to the increased risk of type 2 diabetes, increased admissions to hospital and pressure on the care system. It is a huge issue,' she said.

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Mrs Macleod said Norfolk public health's key work involved the National Child Measurement Project to weigh reception-aged children and pupils in year 6 at school to monitor and address obesity levels. The public health team will also lead a health check scheme on people aged between 40 and 74 who do not have a known heart condition.