TODAY the Examiner can exclusively reveal that almost one in four people in Huddersfield are clinically obese.

The assistant director for public health for the town's primary care trusts, James Williams, called the figures "proof that obesity and people not exercising is a huge problem - and one we have to deal with now".

Studies of patients visiting their GPs have revealed a staggering 23% were dangerously overweight.

That means their body mass index - the amount of fat in their body - is more than 30%.

The figures are part of a health white paper by South and Central Huddersfield primary care trusts to tackle obesity.

Experts fear the effects of not eating balanced diets and not doing exercise could be Britain's biggest killer within years. But Mr Williams is determined to stop Huddersfield's spiralling weight problem.

He and his team have drawn up an action plan to beat what he calls ``the obesity time bomb".

He added: "We can break it down into the impact on the individual and then the impact on society and the NHS.

"The latest figures show that in 2001/02 obesity cost the NHS more than £1bn. In the last 25 years obesity has increased by 400%.

"These figures are truly shocking and prove we must take a hard line to save people's lives. It really is that serious.

"There has been a lot of talk recently about people living longer. But there are now great concerns that a whole generation might not reach the same age as their parents because they are so obese," said Mr Williams.

"We have to remember that these findings are taken only from people who have visited their GPs and been weighed."

But Mr Williams admits the problem is a difficult one to solve. He blames much of the increase in obesity on the cost of being healthy.

"Eating well and exercising can be expensive. That is why we see more unhealthy people from less affluent backgrounds," he said.

"This is a major worry when it comes to children. No child should not be active. It costs very little to take them to the park and kick a football about.

"But it seems this is happening less and less. That is why we are targeting the young, to try and encourage them to understand about healthy eating and exercise.

"Solving this problem will first mean educating people so they are fully aware of the risks they are bringing on themselves."

HUDDERSFIELD Primary Care Trusts have outlined plans to beat the bulge.

* Healthy schools: This initiative is to get children and people who work at schools doing more exercise and eating healthier. It aims to get school nurses identifying problems and solving them before they develop.

* Children's travel: This project is an attempt to get children walking or cycling to school rather than going by car.

* School sport: The PCT want to make sure children are taking part in the recommended two hours of sport at school per week. A Sports and Recreation Steering Group has been set up to work with Sport England to promote activities across Kirklees.

* Obesity Care Pathway: The PCT is working to set up support for people with obesity problems and promote healthier lifestyles. People with diabetes or heart disease will be targeted and given the chance to take part in weight management programmes.

* Five-a-day: Disadvantaged areas are to be targeted through the Surestart project to get people eating five or more pieces of fruit and veg every day.