Herefordshire has “significantly higher” obesity than the rest of England, particularly in children, which needs to be addressed through better diet, according to the county’s new health plan.

In his annual report on the health of the local population, which the council has to publish by law, its director of public health Matt Pearce said obesity in Herefordshire “remains stubbornly high”, with 31 per cent of adults classified as obese compared to the national rate of 25 per cent.

Being overweight “is a key modifiable risk factor” for developing type 2 diabetes, which 15,750 adults in Herefordshire suffer from, he said. Treating diabetes consumes a tenth of the NHS budget, along with social care costs.


Also worrying is the rate of obesity in Herefordshire’s children, which appears to rise markedly during their school years. While just over one in four reception-age children are classed as overweight, this rises to more than one in three (36 per cent) by year 6, the end of primary school.

More alarming still, the rate of children classed as obese nearly doubles over the same period.

“This is particularly concerning as the proportion of reception children who have excess weight in Herefordshire has been higher than the England average for the last few years,” Mr Pearce’s report says.

The worst rates of obesity in year-6 children are in the city wards of Aylestone Hill, Widemarsh, Central, Hinton & Hunderton, Red Hill and Belmont Rural, and also in Leominster South, Stoney Street, Ross West and Penyard.

In 2018, the government set a target to halve children’s obesity levels by 2030.


Children in Herefordshire also have poorer oral health than elsewhere in the country, the report points out.

However Herefordshire “does quite well” in meeting the official target of five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, with 63 per cent achieving this, ahead of the national average, Mr Pearce said.

He recommended the county work towards better education on food and cooking, sourcing more local food including for workplaces, and eating less meat.