FUNDING for obesity in Essex is being cut despite a countywide epidemic.

By 2020 experts estimate more than a third of adults will be clinically obese.

Despite the problem Essex County Council, the organisation responsible for public health, is cutting funding.

Last year £1,482,762 was spent on weight management.

This year it will be £1,342,800 - a reduction of about £140,000 - and the money will also have to cover a new National Diabetes Prevention Programme.

The report from County Hall stated: "The NDPP is a preventative approach to reducing type two diabetes, specifically targeting pre-diabetics and referring them into an intensive lifestyle service to help them manage their weight and avert the risk of developing type two diabetes."

The programmes will be run by Anglia Community Enterprise.

The aim is to reduce obesity rates.

The report states: "Essex weight management services play a key role in reducing the impact of obesity on Essex County Council and acute health service demand, through supporting individuals to change their behaviour and through appropriate management of onward referrals.

Data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre predicts 41 per cent of men and 36 per cent of women will be obese by 2020.

As well as the third of obese adults another third are "carrying excess weight" according to Essex County Council.

A weight management campaign was launched by the authority this year, in stark contrast to the funding cut, called Essex Weighs.

The website allows people, according to the council, to create "a personalised profile, where they can log their weight and pledge to act upon different healthy lifestyle changes, such as eating more fruit and exercising".

A spokesman said: "As well as free resources such as recipes and exercise advice, the website also has a community focus, with the inclusion of blogs, which allow residents to share their own experience, in their own words, of their healthy living and weight management journey.

Anne Brown, cabinet member for community living, said: "The increasing and unacceptable numbers of Essex residents who are overweight or obese is a major concern.

"Not only does excess weight and obesity have a real impact on our resident’s lives, but it also puts a strain on our services."

Dr Mike Gogarty, Director of Public Health at Essex County Council, added: “Obesity can reduce life expectancy by an average of three to ten years and increases the risk of many serious illnesses, such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

“Many of the health issues our residents suffer through being overweight are preventable. What is needed is a shift in perception, and it’s important that our residents start to take more responsibility for their health by reviewing their lifestyle and making long-term changes."