THE Gwent valleys remain part of a South Wales obesity hotspot where a range of lifestyle issues contribute to poor health, according to figures from the annual Welsh Health Survey.

More than 30,000 people across Wales submit information every year for the survey, to provide a picture of the state of the nation’s health from the point of view of its population.

Three of Gwent’s five council areas – Torfaen, Blaenau Gwent and Caerphilly – recorded obesity rates of 26- 27 per cent, a level considered significantly higher than the survey’s average finding of 22 per cent for Wales.

The trio were among seven out of 22 Welsh council areas rated significantly higher than average for obesity, along with Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, Bridgend and Neath Port Talbot.

When people who are overweight are added to the equation, the three Gwent valleys areas remained significantly higher than average (57 per cent), with 61-62 per cent of their populations rated overweight or obese.

Blaenau Gwent and Torfaen, with 28 and 27 per cent respectively, rated significantly higher than average on the smoking scale, and along with Caerphilly significantly lower than the average in terms of consumption of fruit and vegetables.

The survey results once again emphasise the health gap between valleys areas, particularly Blaenau Gwent, and its neighbour Monmouthshire, where overweight/ obesity and smoking are below the Wales average, and fruit and vegetable consumption above average.

Social and economic, as well as health, factors have to be included in the reasons for the differences, but it is clear lifestyle plays a key part in differing health outcomes.

A quarter of those who answered the survey in Caerphilly and 28 per cent in Blaenau Gwent rated their general health as fair or poor, significantly above the Wales average of 20 per cent.

By contrast, just 17 per cent of those questioned in Monmouthshire rated their general health fair or poor.