Hospital admissions for obese patients in Suffolk soar by 800 in just a year

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- Credit: PA

Health chiefs in Suffolk have reaffirmed their commitment to tackling unhealthy lifestyles in the county as new figures revealed a major rise in hospital admissions where patients were diagnosed as being obese.

New data has shown there were nearly 5,399 admissions to hospitals in Suffolk in 2013/14 for patients with a primary or secondary diagnosis of obesity – understood to be a significant increase on the previous year.

In the East of England as a whole, Suffolk has one of the highest proportions of obesity-linked inpatient admissions – 734 patients per 100,000 people - while Essex has one of the lowest rates at 498 per 100,000.

The figures nationally have been put down to a string of issues including poor diet and a lack of exercise.

Dr Mark Lim, associate director of clinical strategy at the Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said the issue of obesity is “a problem that has been building for 20 years” and that it is one they are determined to see improve.

“Regardless of where our position is relative to other places, even if we were down to 300 per 100,000, we would look to reduce it,” he added.

“What I would hope to see happen, and I don’t think we can necessarily predict the numbers going up or down, but we certainly hope Suffolk will go some way to bucking the trend or being better than the national average – that would be a reasonable ambition.”

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According to the figures, released by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, there were a total of 5,399 admissions in Suffolk, excluding Waveney, in 2013/14.

Broken down, there were 1,303 admissions in the West Suffolk Clincial Commissioning Group area, which equates to 582 admissions per 100,000 of the population.

In the Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG area the figure stood at 3,323 admissions, which is 839 admissions per 100,000. For the Great Yarmouth and Waveney area, part of which is covered in Suffolk, there were 1,476 admissions.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council, which took over public health duties in 2013, said obesity, and its effects, is a key health priority and will continue to be in years to come.

She added: “Similar to the national picture, we know from figures published by Public Health England in 2014 that nearly two thirds of adults in Suffolk are overweight or obese.

“This can have long-term effects on people’s general health and wellbeing, and cost implications associated with support from the health service.

“It’s important to remember that sensible eating and exercise are the best ways of managing weight and avoiding an increased risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”

Richard Crick, healthy lifestyle services manager at Live Well Suffolk, added: “It’s slightly disappointing to see these figures, considering there are free services available in Suffolk to help people who struggle with their weight.

“As part of our ‘Lose Weight with Live Well Suffolk’ programme, we support people to make small changes to their diet and activity levels to help manage their weight. The service is completely free, and we run the weight management course for both adults and children.

“We would really encourage people who think they could benefit from the practical help and advice that’s on offer to make a conscious decision to come forward before it’s too late.”

In contrast to Suffolk, the national average was 679 admissions per 100,000 and 688 for the East of England.

In 2012/13 the admissions figure for the Suffolk Primary Care Trust area was 3,818, which equates to 621 per 100,000 of the population, which is expected to be significantly lower than 2013/14.

In Essex, there were 7,053 for 2013/14. For all the PCT areas in the county combined for 2012/13, there were 8,116.

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