Could obesity in Hampstead and Highgate be playing a role in area’s coronavirus rates?

Hospital admissions were obesity is a factor are on the rise. Picture: Clara Molden/PA

Hospital admissions were obesity is a factor are on the rise. Picture: Clara Molden/PA - Credit: PA Archive/PA Images

Obesity levels in north London could be exacerbating the coronavirus pandemic, new research suggests.

A report by NHS Digital, Statistics on Obesity, Physical Activity and Diet in England 2020, found hospitals around the country saw a spike in admissions where obesity was a factor in the period between April 1, 2018 to December 31, 2019.

Many London boroughs saw some of the greatest increases. Westminster recorded 3,110 admissions, up 66 per cent on the previous period. There were 41pc more recorded in Barnet, 9pc more in Haringey and 25pc more in Camden.

It is notable, however, that admissions relating directly to obesity have fallen by 17pc in Westminster, 14pc in Barnet, 25pc in Haringey and 44pc in Camden.

New research from The University of Glasgow found increased body mass index (BMI) was linked to suffering severe symptoms of coronavirus.

Professor Kevin Fenton, regional director of public health at Public Health England (PHE) and NHS London, said: “The link between obesity and Covid-19 health outcomes is not yet clear, so PHE is rapidly building robust data and undertaking detailed analysis to develop our understanding of the impact of this novel coronavirus on different groups which can inform actions to mitigate the risks it presents.”

Cllr Tim Mitchell, deputy leader and cabinet member for adult social care and public health at Westminster Council, said: “An increase in the rate of hospital admissions where obesity was a factor is concerning, but it should be recognised that the way these figures are reported has changed and this will have an impact on the statistics.”

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A Barnet Council spokesperson highlighted the authority’s campaigns to reduce obesity in the borough and noted Barnet is below the London and national average.

Haringey councillor Sarah James, cabinet member for adults and health, said Haringey has a “multidisciplinary approach” which includes the Healthy Schools and One You programmes, as well as partnering with businesses in the London-wide Healthy High Streets Challenge.

A Camden Council spokesperson said the authority promotes walking and cycling, tackles advertising of unhealthy food and works with caterers and food businesses to increase healthy food on offer.