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Obesity and excess weight • Physical inactivity • Diet and nutrition

Obesity and excess weight

69.0% of adults in Gateshead have excess weight [Chart - Adult excess weight] according to survey data.[1] This is significantly worse than the England average of 61.3%.

A local survey conducted in 2016 (Adult Health and Lifestyle Survey) showed variation in excess weight for men. For example, whilst 75% of men aged 35 to 64 and 74% aged 65+ are overweight or obese, this compares with just 40% of those aged under 35. The rate for women aged 35 to 64 is much higher at 58%, but the proportion does not differ in the older age bands for women, at 54% and 58% respectively.[2]

The local survey also asked about self-perception of weight. Of those who were overweight or obese (based on the measurements they provided), 92% realised they were in that weight zone. In addition, 92% said they would like to lose weight.[2]

9.6% of 4-5 year olds and 24.6% of 10-11 year olds living in Gateshead were obese in 2016/17 [Chart - Child obesity aged 4-5] [Chart - Child obesity aged 10-11].[3] The proportion for 4 -5 year olds is the same as the England average of 9.6%. However, the proportion for 10-11 year olds is significantly higher than the England average of 20.0%.

Of children attending Gateshead schools, 22.0% of 4-5 year olds and 38.5% of 10-11 year olds were classified as overweight or obese (excess weight).[4] Whilst the proportion for 4-5 year olds is similar to the England average of 22.6%, the proportion for 10-11 year olds is significantly higher than the England average of 34.2% [Chart - Child excess weight aged 4-5] [Chart - Child excess weight aged 10-11].

Child obesity data at ward level suggests that there are variations across Gateshead, with higher rates in a number of the more deprived areas and lower levels in less deprived areas. This is particularly noteworthy in Felling, Deckham, Pelaw & Heworth, Windy Nook & Whitehills, and Dunston & Teams at year 6, which all have excess weight rates 41%.[5] [Map - Ward child excess weight at reception] [Map - Ward child excess weight at Year 6].[6]

Inequalities studies suggest that overweight and obesity is more prevalent in more deprived areas. This is demonstrated in both the national deprivation profile of adults who are overweight or obese [Chart - Adult excess weight deprivation profile][1] and the local deprivation profile of children attending Gateshead schools at both age 4-5 and age 10-11 [Chart - Child excess weight aged 4-5 deprivation profile] [Chart - Child excess weight aged 10-11 deprivation profile].[4]

See also: 


[1] Active Lives Survey, Sport England, 2015/16 (Health Profiles website)

[2] Health and Lifestyle Survey, Gateshead Council, 2016

[3] NCMP, HSCIC, 2016/17 (NCMP Local Authority Profile website)

[4] NCMP, HSCIC, 2016/17 (PHOF website)

[5] NCMP, NHS Digital, 2014/15 - 2016/17 (GOV.uk website)

[6] NCMP, NHS Digital, 2013/14 - 2015/16 (Local Health website)

Physical inactivity

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, dementia, mental health problems and musculoskeletal conditions. It is recommended that adults should do at least 150 minutes (2½ hours) of moderate intensity activity in bouts of 10 minutes or more every week. Children and young people should engage in moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for at least 60 minutes every day.[1]

A local survey conducted in 2016 (Adult Health and Lifestyle Survey) found that whilst 73% of Gateshead residents said they were in good health, only 64% thought they were fit. Some residents were significantly less likely to feel fit, including those who smoked (37% thought they were fit), those not getting the recommended level of exercise of 150+ minutes per week (40%) and those who had excess weight (51%).[2]

The perception of fitness differs by gender, with 41% of women saying they feel unfit, compared with 31% of men. Interestingly, there is an indication (though not definitive) that men may feel less fit as they grow older, whereas women are the opposite and actually feel fitter the older they get. This may reflect that the data indicates more women get the recommended level of exercise (150+ minutes per week) the older they get, whereas less men do (although again this is indicative only).[2]

In the national 2016/17 Active Lives Survey 63.2% of adults (aged 19+) in Gateshead reported undertaking 150 minutes of physical activity per week (active adults). The proportion is similar to the England average which is 66.0%. [Chart - Active adults]. It will be important to monitor this indicator in future years to see if a consistent trend emerges. National data shows a significant variation in the proportion of active adults with those in the most deprived areas much less likely to be active than those in the least deprived areas.[3]

In 2014, 72% of primary school children aged 8-11 years reported that they had exercised three times or more in the last week and the exercise was enough to make them breathe harder.[4]

In the 2014/15 'What About YOUth' (WAY) survey, 13.4% of 15 year olds in Gateshead reported that they had been physically active for at least one hour per day seven days a week. This is similar to the England average of 13.9% [Chart - 15 year olds physically active for at least an hour per day seven days a week].[5]

In Gateshead in 2011, only 0.9% of adult working age residents travelled to work by bicycle and 5.7% on foot. This compares with 1.9% in England who cycled, and 6.9% who walked.[6]

In 2014, 90% of primary school children had a bike.[4]

Nonetheless, cycling both for travel and recreation appear to be increasing in Gateshead: cycling to work increased by 61% in Gateshead between 2001 and 2011,[6] and cycling counts at monitoring points in Gateshead more than doubled in frequency between 2008 and 2012,[7] and have been increasing since 2004.[8]

Commuting by public transport is also associated with a healthier weight than travel by car.[9] Whilst a greater proportion of working age adults travel to work by public transport in Gateshead than in England,[6] public transport use in Tyne and Wear has been reducing since a peak in 2009/10.[10]

See also: 


[1] Department of Health. Start Active, Stay Active - A report on physical activity for health from the four home countries' Chief Medical Officers, 11th July 2011

[2] Health and Lifestyle Survey, Gateshead Council, 2016

[3] Active Lives Survey, Sport England, 2016/17 (PHOF website)

[4] Gateshead Schools Health Related Behaviour Survey, 2014

[5] What About YOUth? Survey, HSCIC, 2014/15 (Young People website)

[6] Census 2011, Method of Travel to Work in England and Wales, ONS, 2011

[7] Gateshead Council UDP Annual Monitoring Report, 2012/13 (Gateshead Council website)

[8] TADU, Gateshead Council, 2004-2013

[9] Flint E, et al. Associations between active commuting, body fat, and body mass index: population based, cross sectional study in the United Kingdom. BMJ 2014;349:g4887, 2014

[10] Public transport use in Tyne and Wear, Nexus, 2007/08 to 2012/13

Diet and nutrition

A 2016/17 survey showed that just 55.4% of those aged 16+ in Gateshead were eating the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables every day. This compares with the England average of 57.4% [Chart - Fruit and veg 5-a-day].[1]

A local survey conducted in 2016 (Adult Health and Lifestyle Survey) recorded 48% of adults eating 5-a-day. The survey found that a further 38% were close, eating 3 to 4 portions per day. 11% have 1 or 2 portions and just 4% have none (although this means 1 in 25 people do not have any fruit or veg on a typical day)[2]. Women seem to be more likely than men to eat 5-a-day, and this is definitely the case for older women aged 65+ with 73% eating 5-a-day compared to 44% of older men.

Only 32% of those who do not get the recommended level of exercise (150+ minutes per week) and 33% of those who smoke eat the recommended 5-a-day compared with the average for all people of 48%.[2]

20% of respondents said they eat takeaways once a week or more often. Working age people are far more likely to eat takeaway food weekly or more often (24% aged under 35 and 22% aged 35 to 64) than those aged 65+ (6%).[2]

In 2012 just over a quarter (26%) of primary school pupils aged 8-11 years eat 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily, whereas only 16% of secondary school pupils aged 12-15 do so.[3] In 2014 the proportion of primary school pupils eating the recommended 5 portions remained at 26% (No secondary schools took part in the 2014 survey). 10% said they didn't eat any portions of fruit and vegetables on the day before the survey.

In the 2014/15 'What About YOUth' (WAY) survey, 46.1% of 15 year olds in Gateshead reported that they had eaten 5 portions or more of fruit and vegetables per day. This is significantly lower than the England average of 52.4% but similar to other local authorities in the region and those in Gateshead's CIPFA nearest neighbour group. [Chart - 15 year olds who eat 5+ portions of fruit and veg per day].[4] (Note that the large difference between this survey data and the HRBQ survey data in the previous bullet point may be due to the way that the question is asked, with the WAY survey splitting the question into three - asking separately about vegetables; fruit juice; and fruit.)

Increasing breastfeeding at an early stage in life is expected to reduce illness in young children and have health benefits for both the child and mother. In Gateshead 75.6% of mothers breastfed their babies within the first 48 hours after delivery in 2016/17. This is similar to the England average of 74.5% [Chart - Breastfeeding initiation].[5] At 6-8 weeks just 36.0% are still being breastfed, compared with an England average of 44.4%. [Chart - Breastfeeding prevalence at 6-8 weeks].[6]

See also:  ;


[1] Active Lives Survey, Sport England, 2016/17 (PHOF website)

[2] Health and Lifestyle Survey, Gateshead Council, 2016

[3] Gateshead Schools Health Related Behaviour Survey, 2012 and 2014

[4] What About YOUth? Survey, HSCIC, 2014/15 (Young People website)

[5] NHS England, Breastfeeding initiation 2016/17 (Breastfeeding website)

[6] NHS England, Breastfeeding at 6-8 weeks 2016/17 (Breastfeeding website)

Last modified on 13th December 2017

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