NHS, council and community organisations will benefit from a new toolkit crammed with information about obesity, including practical tips on how to get active and healthy.

The resource, developed by the British Heart Forum and Faculty of Public Health, will support work that is already being developed across the South West.

The toolkit provides statistics and reviews the evidence about what approaches work best in tackling obesity.

Current projections are that as many as 100,000 children in the region will be obese by 2010. Adult obesity levels in the South West are in line with national trends with 23 % of men and 21% of women classified as obese (compared to England averages of 22% and 23% respectively).

Welcoming the development of the toolkit, regional director of Public Health for NHS South West, Dr Gabriel Scally, said: "Staying a healthy weight can bring about many benefits, not only reducing the risk of serious diseases like heart attacks or diabetes but it also helps people feel good about themselves and the world around them.

"We must raise our game in tackling obesity as levels continue to rise in the population. It is also worth noting that the combined obesity and overweight levels in the UK are 61% of the population compared to about 40% in Italy, France and Denmark.

"Obesity is not just a challenge for the NHS but something that we must tackle in our everyday lives, for example, in the food we eat and give to our children and our regular trips to school or work.

"This toolkit gives a welcome overview of the latest figures and approaches to tackling obesity and recognises that action requires the commitment of a range of people including parents, teachers, leisure services and business organisations."

The toolkit is part of an overall drive to reduce both childhood and adult obesity in the South West. Other key actions include:

  • An exercise to measure and weigh all reception (four to five-year-olds) and year six children (ten to eleven-year-olds) which will take place in schools across the region in the summer term. This will provide an overview of current levels of childhood obesity and allow organisations to target resources where they are needed most.
  • The development of the Health Living Social Marketing Initiative which is exploring what barriers people feel they have to overcome when trying to achieve healthy eating and an active lifestyle. The programme is developing new approaches to help motivate people to change their lifestyle.
  • The continued development of the Healthy Schools Standard which sets out a comprehensive approach to improving food provision and physical activity in schools. The South West is one of the best performers in the country for implementing the new standard..