'Worrying' snapshot of Suffolk's health

A WORRYING snapshot of people's health in Suffolk has revealed one in four adults is obese and children are not getting enough exercise in school.

Kate McGrath

A WORRYING snapshot of people's health in Suffolk has revealed one in four adults is obese and children are not getting enough exercise in school.

The East of England NHS Trust has published its 2008 health profile detailing areas of health and lifestyle in Suffolk.

According to the profile only one in nine adults is physically active, while one in six binge drinks and one in four smokes, which amounts to 1,150 smoking-related deaths each year.

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A similar trend is also developing in children's health with almost one in five children failing to take part in the recommended two hours of exercise a week. This is significantly below the national average.

It also revealed nearly 10% of schoolchildren of reception age are classed as obese.

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Suffolk County Council said it was “disappointed” that only 82% of schools managed to provide two hours of sport.

On a more positive note, the profile, which is funded by the Department of Health and produced annually by the Association of Public Health Observatories, shows the number of deaths in the county has fallen.

Over the past 10 years, deaths from all causes for men and women, and early deaths from cancer, heart disease and stroke have declined and remain below the England average.

Violent crime is also below the national average.

The health atlas also reveals significant variations in health inequalities across the county. For example, men from Ipswich's most deprived wards have nearly six-and-a-half years shorter life expectancy than those from the town's least deprived areas.

Life expectancy in Ipswich is similar to the national average, whereas all the other local authorities have a longer life expectancy than average. For men the life expectancy is 79 and for women, 83.

Peter Bradley, director of public health at Suffolk Primary Care Trust (PCT) and Suffolk County Council, said although there are areas which need addressing, he applauded the public for making good lifestyle choices.

“The health of people in Suffolk is good and that is as much down to the choices that residents make so they should be applauded for these efforts.

“There are areas which need to be addressed and we are working towards these.”

He said smoking was still the biggest cause of younger death, but added the PCT was doing what they could to make sure services for people wanting to quit are available for those with busy lifestyles.

In terms of inactivity and weight issues, Mr Bradley said the trust was working with a number of agencies to make exercise more accessibly.

Patricia O'Brien, Suffolk County Council's portfolio holder for children, schools and young people's services said: “We are disappointed that not all of our schools managed to reach the very challenging target for the number of 5-16 year olds who spend at least two hours a week on high quality PE and school sport.

“The national target was 85% for 2007-8 and the average performance for Suffolk schools was 82.3%. “We are confident that in this year's survey all our schools will show a marked improvement in high quality participation PE and sport.”

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