Experts query claims that county is UK’s unhealthiest

SUFFOLK: Health experts have expressed surprise at a report released today, which found people in the county have the unhealthiest lifestyles in the UK.

The report, Visions of Britain 2020, found Suffolk residents exercise less than those in other areas.

They also take the least notice of their calorie intake and are least likely to follow recommended guidelines on drinking alcohol, according to the survey of 1,000 consumers.

But Dr Peter Bradley, public health director for NHS Suffolk, said: “Statistics show that people in Suffolk are relatively healthy compared to those in other parts of the country.

“Life expectancy is higher than the England average and is increasing in both sexes. Figures from 2003 to 2005 also show deaths due to smoking, cancer, heart disease and stroke are lower than the England average.

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“However, as with the rest of the nation, unhealthy lifestyles such as smoking, obesity and binge drinking affect all ages and communities and are a problem.”

Data published on the Visions of Britain website also found 52 per cent of Ipswich residents do not eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables each day.

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They are also the least aware of the government’s recommended weekly guidelines on alcohol consumption. Dr Janet Massey, a Felixstowe GP and honorary secretary of the British Medical Association, added: “I am surprised because we have put in a lot of effort to get people walking and eating healthily, and there has been a lot of publicity regarding that.

“Maybe in some pockets, there are areas of deprivation but as far as Suffolk as a whole, I would really question whether that was a representative sample.”

Health campaigner Prue Rush said: “I think this sounds a bit sweeping in its condemnation of Suffolk and I am sure there would be a lot of people who would argue it is not the case. I would be surprised if we were any worse than anywhere else.”

The report by Friends Provident, which maps out the potential impact of people eating unhealthily, also suggested free medical treatments could be cut back over the next decade as the NHS struggles to cope with the strain of Britons’ unhealthy lifestyles.

n Do you think Suffolk is a healthy county? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail

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