A Trafford councillor has said that the number of ‘overweight NHS staff’ is a clear indication that there is a nutrition problem among the wider population in the borough.

Conservative Coun Michael Whetton admitted to his own weight control issues when he told the borough’s health and wellbeing board what he had noticed locally.

He was commenting after Trafford director of public health Eleanor Roaf had delivered her annual report to the council’s health and wellbeing board.

“I don’t need to declare an interest in this issue,” said Coun Whetton, “But I can’t help but notice – and I’m probably going to get shot to ribbons for saying this – it’s clear that a lot of  NHS staff are carrying a lot of weight.

“So if that’s the case, it’s clearly a problem in the general population.”

Chair of the board Coun Jane Slater responded by saying NHS staff were having to resort to using food banks where nutritional quality was not high, saying: “It’s beans and bread.”

Ms Roaf had told the board members that more than 12,000 households in Trafford are in fuel poverty this winter and are at risk of hypothermia, respiratory diseases and worsening mental health.

She said that the war in Ukraine has led to shortages of both fuel and food, leading to increased costs of both.

“Trafford families have been very welcoming, with many people opening their homes to refugees, but finding longer-term housing for refugees, wherever they are from is a pressing issue,” said Ms Roaf’s report.

“This is exacerbated by the huge divide in our housing sector, with many people in expensive, insecure and poor quality rented accommodation.”

Young people are particularly affected by this, and those without parental support are finding it challenging to raise the money for a housing deposit, she said.

And she called for the council to address ‘long-standing health inequalities’, which were further exposed and heightened during the pandemic which are ‘leading to worse outcomes for all’.

Ms Roaf that ‘food insecurity’ was impacting on health and wellbeing in Trafford. 

“Healthy food is generally more expensive than highly processed food and increases in energy costs will make it more likely that families will be forced into eating cheaper, lower quality foods,” she said.

“In Trafford, people living in more disadvantaged communities were already experiencing difficulties in accessing and affording food for a balanced diet before increases in the costs of living.”

Ms Road went on: “Food insecurity is linked with malnutrition and obesity, as well as poor mental and physical health and wellbeing, so if we fail to tackle food insecurity, we are going to see a huge increase in demand on health and social services.”

In September 2022 in Greater Manchester, 42 per cent of people were experiencing food insecurity, with 56pc of households with children and 34pc without children struggling.

“Children in the most deprived communities in Trafford are already significantly more likely to be overweight or living with obesity than those better off,” Ms Road said. 

In Trafford, feedback from local charities highlights that the demand for food support is increasing, both from food pantries – such as The Bread and Butter Thing) – and foodbanks, with the additional challenges of energy costs for cooking.

“While this type of food support is necessary, it is a short-term remedy that does not address the causes of poverty and food insecurity,” said Ms Roaf.

Meanwhile, although the national ban on smoking indoors has had a huge impact on smoking rates, the is still ‘significant inequality’ as there are still higher rates in routine and manual workers, continued Ms Roaf.

“The average smoker smoking 10 cigarettes a day spends just over £2,000 on tobacco, a 20-a-day smoker will spend £4,380 and this expenditure can drive families into poverty,” she said.

Trafford’s pilot e-cigarette programme supported 38pc of people from routine and manual jobs and 24pc of the unemployed population.

“Our new project targeting housing association residents, shows that a switch to a free e-cigarette device can save a 10-a-day smoker £550 in a three-month period nd a 20-a-day smoker £1,100,” said Ms Roaf.