Concern over state of Suffolk's health

TENS of thousands of Suffolk residents are risking an early death because of their unhealthy lifestyles, it has been claimed.New figures compiled for the first time have provided a graphic illustration of the vast numbers of people in the county who drink, smoke and eat to excess.

TENS of thousands of Suffolk residents are risking an early death because of their unhealthy lifestyles, it has been claimed.

New figures compiled for the first time have provided a graphic illustration of the vast numbers of people in the county who drink, smoke and eat to excess.

And it has also emerged that less than third of the county's population consume enough fruit and vegetables to live healthy lifestyles.

Dr Amanda Jones, deputy director of public health for Suffolk Primary Care Trust, admitted more work needs to be done to persuade people to change their habits.


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But she said Suffolk residents are generally healthier than people in other parts of the country.

“The message is people in Suffolk live relatively healthy lifestyles compared to England as a whole but we still have a lot of work to do,” she said.

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“Anyone binge drinking, smoking or not eating their five-a-day fruit and vegetables is putting their health at risk.

“Smoking, in particular, is one of the major causes of preventable diseases and early deaths.”

Dr Jones said one of the biggest challenges in tackling the problem is changing people's habits.

“It's not straightforward and alcohol is one issue where it's particularly difficult,” she said.

“Lots of people like a drink, and there's nothing wrong with that in moderation, but there's a culture of drinking to get drunk, particularly among young people.

“We've got to keep on pushing the message through and let people know the harm they're doing to their health.

“Locally and nationally, I think the messages are starting to get through but there's still a long way to go.”

The Eastern Region Public Health Observatory figures for Suffolk show more than 160,000 adults smoke, nearly 115,000 binge drink and 145,000 are obese.

And 480,000 of the county's population - placed at 684,000 by the health observatory for the purposes of the study - do not eat enough fruit and vegetables.

Dr Simon Rudland, a GP at StowHealth, in Violet Hill Road, Stowmarket, said he and his fellow professionals were now focused on preventative care.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, issues like obesity are becoming an increasing problem and GPs are seeing more patients suffer from conditions like diabetes as a result,” he said.

“Nowadays we look harder are more proactive in trying to address problems. We will give people advice to help them to avoid becoming obese for example. Putting them in contact with fitness classes is one way of doing that.”

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