Suffolk district's obesity problem

HEALTH experts last night warned that one in five people living in parts of west Suffolk are now clinically obese.The shocking findings emerged in a report compiled by the Department of Health which showed the scale of the obesity problem in the Forest Heath area.

HEALTH experts last night warned that one in five people living in parts of west Suffolk are now clinically obese.

The shocking findings emerged in a report compiled by the Department of Health which showed the scale of the obesity problem in the Forest Heath area.

Officers at Forest Heath District Council, which covers towns such as Mildenhall, Newmarket and Brandon, are now pouring over the report's findings to decide on the best course for tackling the issue.

The report also found a quarter of all Forest Heath adults smoke, 75% fail to consume the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables and one in seven people are classed as binge drinkers.


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Susan Vincent, chairman of the council's health working group, said the report showed the importance of building on health initiatives already in place across the district.

She said: “Although we don't have a health responsibility we are responsible for encouraging people to live healthier lives.

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“For example we've had a number of health fairs which have been very well attended and we hope to build upon.”

She said today's committee meeting would help identify ways to tackle the region's obesity problems.

The report, which identifies four main areas of concern, said: “The health summary gives us the information outlined in the key points in comparison to the England averages.

“We can see from the information that the main areas for Forest Heath are obese adults, female life expectancy, cancer deaths and road injury deaths.”

Norman Foster, of the Suffolk Primary Care Trust public health team specialises in obesity, issued a word of caution on the Department of Health figures.

“I wouldn't single out Forest Heath because this is a national issue and these figures are based on estimates,” he said.

“What we do know from data on child obesity is that it affects children across Suffolk.

“Obesity doesn't follow the normal rules and often there is no particular pattern. That's why we are launching a number of interventions across the county.

“It is a difficult issue because it is multi-faceted. People need to take responsibility and they need support not just from the health services but also like our partners in the district council.

“Together we need to encourage people to exercise and eat sensibly.”

Members of Forest Heath's health working group will consider the report today and decide which areas to give priority to.

Earlier this month, figures produced by Suffolk PCT showed that a third of 10 and 11-year-olds in the county were overweight or obese.

will.clarke@eadt.co.uk

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