Suffolk: County winning obesity war but chiefs warn against complacency
HEALTH chiefs believe Suffolk could be winning the war against obesity after new figures showed the number of people admitted to hospital primarily due to obesity problems was half the national average.
The figures showed 70 Suffolk people were admitted to hospital in 2011/12 when obesity was the primary reason, according to data from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).
This equates to 11 people per 100,000 across the county on average – which doubles to 22 on a national scale and rises slightly to 12 for the east of England. It is also seven less than the 2010/11 figures.
Michael Hattrell, health improvement manager for NHS Suffolk, said it indicated Suffolk was on the right the path to a healthier future but warned against the dangers of becoming complacent.
He said: “It is definitely positive news and shows we are doing the right things in the battle against obesity, but there is still a lot of work left to do and we don’t want to become complacent.
“It will be important to see how we continue over the next couple of years and it will be great to lower those figures even more, but obesity is a long-term project and we want to stabilise the figures before we look at reducing them.
“Long-term effects of obesity include diabetes, heart conditions and increased blood pressure and cholesterol levels, so we are making children and the whole of the family aware of the need to change.
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“We want people to challenge themselves and set attainable goals.”
The report also revealed 3,084 Suffolk people were admitted to hospital when obesity was either the primary or secondary reason – 502 people per 100,000 on average, an exact replica of the national figure and 53 less than the east of England average.
But Dr Peter Funnell, executive director of Healthy Ambitions Suffolk, said the challenge to control obesity remained a high priority.
He said: “While there is some good news, the stark reality is that both locally and nationally we face a major challenge with obesity and encouraging, supporting and educating people to make the necessary life changes to address poor nutrition and inactivity.
“This is not about preaching change but constantly demonstrating the importance of these issues and the consequences of the decisions we all make in our daily lives.
“Clearly there is much good work in this area in Suffolk, but there remains much to do.”
Meanwhile, the report highlighted one in 10 children are obese when they start school nationally.
It said 9.5% of children in Reception class – aged just four and five – were classed as clinically obese, while a fifth of pupils in Year Six – aged 10 and 11 – were excessively overweight.
Tim Roberts, managing director at Live Well Suffolk, said: “Some parents find it hard to recognise their children are overweight because they are themselves, which is always dangerous.
“National obesity rates and the number of hospital admissions are increasing at quite worrying rates, which makes it even better to see the increases in Suffolk are relatively low.
“It shows that on average people are living healthier lifestyles and are avoiding the affects of obesity.”