NEW figures reveal the alarming extent of the obesity crisis in Dorset.
There were 10,390 admissions in Dorset's hospitals last year where obesity was the main reason for a person being admitted or a secondary factor - nearly seven times higher than the 1500 recorded in 2011/12.
Other statistics released show the number of children leaving primary school overweight or obese is now the highest on record.
According to figures from the National Childhood Measurement Programme, there are 708 more obese children in the South West compared to a decade ago.
The number has risen from 15,599 in the year 2006/7, to 16,307 obese or overweight children in the region in the year 2015/16.
The data shows 28.3 per cent of 11 year olds across Dorset were overweight or obese – a new high and up from 27.7 per cent last year.
One in six primary school leavers in Poole were dangerously fat with 16.3 per cent clinically obese. In Bournemouth, 15.2 per cent of year six students were obese and across Dorset 14.1 per cent were dangerously overweight, according to the NHS Digital figures.
The report shows the number of children aged four starting primary school obese or overweight has gone down with 18.4 per cent of children measured in Poole, 17.6 per cent in Bournemouth and 21.8 per cent across Dorset.
Health campaigners reacted with dismay to the figures and called on the Government to tighten up its plans for tackling childhood obesity.
The Obesity Health Alliance (OHA) - a coalition of more than 30 charities and groups including Action on Sugar, the British Heart Foundation, British Medical Association, Children's Food Trust, and Diabetes UK - said in a statement: "Another set of childhood obesity statistics and another bleak picture.
"Year upon year, we are faced with sobering figures that reveal an increasingly worrying trend - the number of obese and overweight children in the UK is not falling, and is in fact rising."
Meanwhile out of a total 254,911 hospital admissions in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset, an alarming 10,312 people were recorded as having a secondary diagnosis of obesity. This was up from 6,087 obese patients out of 239,111 total admissions in 2013/14.
The figures reveal more people are being admitted to hospital with a primary cause of being obese with 78 people last year compared to 48 people in 2013/14.
In a blog post on the NHS Digital and Public Health England data called Obesity hospital admissions have soared - we need to know why, Public Health Dorset senior analyst Dr David Lemon, said the figures may be due to hospitals keeping better records. He noted those who were classed as obese as a secondary diagnosis came into hospital mostly for muscle and skeleton problems but also for circulatory problems and pregnancy. Patients admitted for muscle and skeleton problems made up about a quarter of all obesity related admissions and mostly related to hip and knee problems.
Sam Crowe, deputy director of Public Health Dorset, said: “We live in a time where people’s lifestyles are influenced by more factors than ever, and obesity is far more complex than what individual people choose to eat and how they move around. Local councils and the NHS need to respond to that challenge and do more to prevent people suffering from ill health as a result of challenges like obesity.
“We introduced LiveWell Dorset last year, which aims to support people to make lifestyle changes such as moving more, losing weight, drinking less and stopping smoking.
“But there is also a huge opportunity to work together to create places that help people to live healthier lives looking at issues like transport, access to green spaces and the quality of food on offer.”
For information on LiveWell Dorset, a free service for adults living in Bournemouth, Poole and Dorset who would like support to change their lifestyle, go to livewelldorset.co.uk or call 0800 8401628.