NEARLY 70% of adults in Herefordshire are either overweight or obese according to figures out this week.

The percentage published by Public Health England (PHE) puts the county amongst the worst in the West Midlands.

Herefordshire Council's public health team says cutting the percentage is now of "vital importance".

The team's researchers are analysing the PHE data to determine the county's exact position.

Out on the ground, the team's "small changes" strategy continues to work on lifestyle choices to tackle weight gain and retention.

The PHE figures - referring to local authority areas - show 66.8% of adults in Herefordshire can currently be classed as either overweight or obese.

As a county, Herefordshire comes second only to Staffordshire on 67.9%.

By contrast, the figure for Worcestershire is 65.5% and Shropshire's 62.5% is the second lowest overall.

The urban areas of Dudley (70.25), Telford and Wrekin (70.2%), Wolverhampton (69.8%), Walsall (68.9%) weigh in at the top.

The data, by local authority, is based on adjusted, self-reported height and weight and collected through the Sport England Active People survey since January  2012.

Up to now, only modelled estimates of adult obesity were available at local authority level, and dated from 2006-2008.

Unlike the previous modelled estimates, the new data will enable local authorities to examine annual trends in excess weight  in their 16 and over (adult) population.

In 2010, the county's then health bosses thought obesity rates to be far higher than available figures could show.

While feedback from GP practices alone indicated around 15,100 obese adults, the council's then  health scrutiny heard  that the actual number could be about 35,000.