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Suffolk has a worse obesity crisis than London as hospital admissions rise 36% in a year

PUBLISHED: 18:09 29 April 2016 | UPDATED: 18:09 29 April 2016

There were 7,365 admissions to Suffolks two main hospitals in 2014/15 where obesity was the main reason for a person being admitted or was a secondary factor. Photo: PA.

There were 7,365 admissions to Suffolks two main hospitals in 2014/15 where obesity was the main reason for a person being admitted or was a secondary factor. Photo: PA.

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Obesity levels are worse in Suffolk than every London borough, a new report revealing the growing challenges facing the county's health chiefs has shown.

The weekly parkrun in Bury St Edmunds, which has the current best sports participation rate in Suffolk.The weekly parkrun in Bury St Edmunds, which has the current best sports participation rate in Suffolk.

There were 7,365 admissions to Suffolk’s two main hospitals in 2014/15 where obesity was the main reason for a person being admitted or was a secondary factor.

The figure has risen by 36% in just a year, up from 5,399 in 2013/14.

Last night, health chiefs admitted the figures are “concerning” but said new schemes such as encouraging healthier food at schools and restaurants will help reverse the trend.

The Health and Social Care Information Centre report also showed there were 997 hospital admissions due to obesity per 100,000 of the population in Suffolk last year. That is a rate worse than any of the 33 London boroughs, which ranged from 238 to 940 and averaged 526.

Thousands of people took park in the Great East Swim 2015 at Alton Water.Thousands of people took park in the Great East Swim 2015 at Alton Water.

The rate, which ranked Suffolk as the 39th worst local authority out of 152 in England, was also worse than Leeds and Birmingham (both 841), Liverpool (795) and Peterborough (452).

Overall in Suffolk, it is estimated that two-thirds of adults are overweight or obese.

A Suffolk County Council public health spokesman said: “While it is difficult to attribute any single underlying factor for this increase, we know that rising levels of obesity are not unique to Suffolk.

“It is an issue that no single organisation can address on its own, which is why we need to work with the NHS and other partners across Suffolk to tackle the problem.

“Suffolk’s public health team has worked with district and borough councils to launch the new ‘Eat Out, Eat Well’ award, which introduces a scheme for restaurants, cafes and other outlets to demonstrate healthier food options on their menus.

“In recent months, we have also introduced healthier food options in schools, with many schools are involved in the innovative Food for Life project.

“We are also championing the ‘Year of Walking’ campaign, which begins next month, to encourage more people to get active in the months to come.

“For those who need support to lose weight, we commission weight management services for children, young people and adults, available from OneLife Suffolk.”

Obesity is associated with serious chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension (high blood pressure) and hyperlipidaemia (high levels of fats in the blood that can lead to narrowing of blockages of blood vessels) – reasons why patients are admitted to hospitals by GPs.

A spokesman for the NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk and NHS West Suffolk clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) said: “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.

“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.”

Call OneLife Suffolk on 01473 718193 or visit www.onelifesuffolk.co.uk.

Dr Chris Rufford, a part-time Suffolk GP and a member of the clinical executive of NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said modern lifestyles have led to Suffolk’s and the nation’s obesity crisis.

Dr Rufford said: “It is our modern lifestyles. During a recent morning’s surgery, I would say about 90% of patients were overweight or obese. They have got no idea they are and most of the things I saw were lifestyle disorders – poor diet, stress, sitting all day and smoking.

“People in Suffolk don’t do a lot of exercise. We are sitting behind computers and eating the wrong food. And unlike London, where people walk, cycle or use public transport, we roll out of bed, get in our cars and park behind our offices.

“There are endless reasons and so I’m not surprised (at the figures) as we are becoming more and more obese as a nation.”

Nationally, there are now more hospital admissions than ever before due to obesity. There were 440,288 admissions to England’s hospitals in 2014/15 where obesity was the main reason for a person being admitted or was a secondary factor.

The figure is the highest on record and is more than 10 times higher than the 40,741 recorded in 2004/5.

Izzi Seccombe, community well-being spokeswoman for the Local Government Association, which represents councils that have a responsibility for public health, said: “These are extremely worrying figures that illustrate the scale of the challenge we face in the fight against obesity.

“But the problem will only get worse unless we take urgent action, with the number of obese adults in the country forecast to soar by a staggering 73% to 26 million people over the next 20 years.”

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