New figures show more people in Suffolk being admitted for obesity-related conditions
PUBLISHED: 18:48 10 May 2019
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Concerns have been raised about the long-term health risks associated with growing obesity levels in Suffolk.
The number of obesity-related hospital admissions for people from Suffolk has more than doubled in some areas over the last five years.
New data from NHS Digital showed that the number of Suffolk people being admitted to hospitals with obesity related conditions named as the primary or secondary cause had grown at much as 200% for patients living in the West Suffolk CCG.
For patients from the Ipswich and East Suffolk CCG there was an increase of 69% with a smaller increase in the Waveney area.
There was also an increase in the number of patients being admitted in North East Essex growing by 175%.
The results also revealed that the number of Suffolk obesity patients requiring bariatric surgery, had also risen over the past five years while numbers in Essex had remained steady.
Ipswich, West Suffolk and Colchester Hospitals are not specialist bariatric units meaning that they, themselves do not carry out bariatric surgery.
Many of those included in the data will have been treated outside the county for their conditions in more specialised units.
James Reeder, cabinet member for health for Suffolk County Council raised concerns about the health risks that could be avoided through healthier lifestyles.
He said: "Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight improves both physical health and mental well-being. As an overweight adult, reducing your body weight by just 5% can significantly reduce health risks. Increasing how much activity we do and being less sedentary can help with weight loss.
"It is important that we work together with partners to support people to lead healthy and active lifestyles. There are a number of services and programmes that we lead and support to tackle obesity, which include the Eat Out Eat well campaign, encouraging local businesses to promote healthier options to customers, commissioning Onelife Suffolk's free weight management programmes, and promoting activity in Suffolk through the Most Active County Partnership.
"On the 18th May we are launching the first ever Move Suffolk week, which will offer a plethora of activities and free sessions to help Suffolk residents get more active, including an exciting dance challenge."
Judith Godfrey, adult weight management lead for OneLife Suffolk reiterated the concerns about long term health problems related to obesity.
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"We know that if you are living with obesity, your risk of other conditions such as high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes increases significantly," said Ms Godfrey.
"We are proud to offer a free weight management service across the county, helping local people to live healthier lives. Our practitioners throughout Suffolk are trained to deliver a comprehensive 12-week programme which is underpinned by a psychologically informed approach, supporting local people to lose weight in an achievable and sustainable way.
Ipswich Central MP Sandy Martin said he was also concerned to hear of the increase in admissions in Suffolk and the impact that fast-food lifestyles could be having on the health service.
"I think trying to encourage people and give them the opportunity to be healthy is important. I think we also need to expect manufacturers and the government to make it easier for people to resist that temptation by not pushing very unhealthy and damaging products.
"There are far too many children who are having very sweet and very fattening things pushed at them through advertising.
"I think the tax on sugary drinks is already having some good effects. I think that sort of approach needs to be extended to some other particularly unhealthy foods.
"I want to see people able to afford to buy healthy food.
"The NHS are spending too much time of their time and effort trying to cope with chronic conditions. When the NHS ought to be encouraging people to be healthy.
"I think an awful lot of us could do more to be a bit healthier. We need to have responsability to deal with our own health."
A spokesman for NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups said:
"The issue of obesity is a problem which has been building for a number of years, affecting not just Suffolk, but the whole country. The rise in levels of obesity is concerning, as the condition can reduce life expectancy and contribute to a number of long-term health conditions.
"This in turn increases demand for health care services and places additional demand on NHS resources.
"Both CCGs work with hospital and other health care partners and we support the work of Public Health Suffolk as well as healthy living provider OneLife Suffolk, to provide education and support for local people to make the necessary changes to improve their health.
"The CCGs want every person to live a long and healthy life. Smaller changes are easier for patients to maintain than a complete overhaul of their lifestyle. Eating healthily, taking regular exercise, reducing alcohol intake can have a hugely positive effect on health and increase life expectancy.
"There are many initiatives in the county that can help people make those lifestyle changes including Healthy Walks Suffolk, weight management programmes and healthy eating courses."