Bradford women warned of obesity health risks

As part of their focus on improving the health and wellbeing of women in Bradford, local NHS clinical leaders are warning of the risks that obesity poses to a woman’s health at every stage of her life.

Women's health

Dr Anne Connolly, the districts’ clinical commissioning groups’ (CCGs) lead for maternity and women’s health, said: “Obesity is the biggest threat to women’s health and the health of future generations.

“Women need to look after their physical and mental health during pregnancy for the sake of their children and grandchildren. If a woman is obese during pregnancy, research indicates there is an increased chance of miscarriage and premature birth.

“For many women, their own health is less of a priority than the health of their children, parents or partner. Women should know that their health is just as important as the health of other family members, and how to get the advice and information they need to live a healthy life.”

In England in 2013, 56.4% of women aged 34-44 and 62% of women aged 45-54 were classified as overweight or obese.

In her annual report, published at the end of last year, England’s chief medical officer Dame Sally Davies said tackling obesity should be a national priority to avert a “growing health catastrophe”. She said obesity was so serious it should be a priority for the whole population, but particularly for women because too often it shortened their lives.

Dr Connolly, who is also a GP in Bradford, is worried that women, especially those who are pregnant or thinking about having a baby, do not consider that being overweight or obese is such a serious health risk as it is.

“There is a danger that children of mothers who are obese will be stillborn or grow up with health problems themselves, such as obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure,” said Dr Connolly. “It’s a difficult message, but I believe that it can empower women to take positive steps like eating more healthily and taking more exercise. It’s never too late to take action for a healthier lifestyle.”

In England in 2013, 56.4% of women aged 34-44 and 62% of women aged 45-54 were classified as overweight or obese.

Obesity can put women at risk of developing a number of conditions: high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and some forms of cancer. Many other health risks are also higher for people who are obese.

A pregnant woman’s health affects the conditions inside the womb which in turn can have life-long consequences for the health of the child including the risk of obesity or Type 2 diabetes.

To prevent obesity and maintain a healthy body weight, eat a well-balanced diet and exercise regularly.

People who want help to eat healthier and get fitter, can sign up to a free weight management service, commissioned by Bradford Council’s public health team, which offers support to individuals and families.

The service is delivered by a team of experienced and qualified lifestyle coaches supported by a team including a GP, psychologist, nutritionist and exercise specialist. Referral is through a GP, other health professional or people can self-refer by calling; 01274 299022.

Healthy eating and exercise tips are available online at Change4Life and OneYou.

Many of the recommendations from the chief medical officer’s report are mirrored by local initiatives that the Bradford CCGs are working on to improve the health and wellbeing of women in the district. 

The CCGs are also hoping to support the development of a ‘women’s health network’ to help tackle health issues and inequalities with input from local women.