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‘Worrisome’ figure of 75 per cent overweight

An “astounding” three-quarters of Bermudians are obese or overweight, Health Minister Jeanne Atherden yesterday told legislators.

Reporting the figures from the Steps to a Well Bermuda survey, Ms Atherden told the House of Assembly: “Regrettably, the Steps survey found that 74.6 per cent of our population is either overweight or obese.

“This is an astounding and worrisome fact, though not surprising. We have looked in the proverbial mirror, and we are not fit. Bermudians will need to acknowledge this fact and make weight reduction and fitness a priority in our lives.”

Chronic kidney disease and diabetes, both of which are linked in many cases to obesity, have emerged as serious health concerns for the Island in recent years.

In the past, Shadow Health Minister Kim Wilson has called for a “sugar tax” on unhealthy foods and drinks, to combat rising obesity and raise revenue needed for the healthcare system.

Worldwide, obesity is one of the top causes of preventable deaths. It is a major driver of heart disease, which is the Island’s top cause of death. Ms Atherden said the rate of obesity detected in the survey had been higher than previous health checks, but that past surveys had not included height and weight to calculate body mass index.

“Another relevant finding from the survey was the number of individuals who reported three or more chronic disease risk factors which was 42 per cent of the total population aged 18 and over,” Ms Atherden added.

The statement came as the minister announced a healthcare summit to be held on July 22 at Elbow Beach.