Fenland near top of the ‘league’ table for smokers, obesity and unhealthy living says health director

PUBLISHED: 17:27 30 May 2014

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Fenland is one of the unhealthiest places in East Anglia with sky high numbers still smoking, not enough people taking exercise and above average levels of obesity in children and adults.

Dr Liz Robin, director of public health for Cambridgeshire, says a third of all adults in Fenland still smoke but among manual and what she terms ‘routine’ workers the percentage rockets to 49 per cent.

She says the figures for Cambridgeshire remain above the national average but the results for Fenland makes the district “the highest rates of all local authorities in the East of England”.

Her annual report is a reminder she says that “smoking is the greatest cause of preventable ill health and premature mortality.

“It is a major risk factor for lung cancer, a number of other cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart disease. Smoking currently accounts for around 750 preventable deaths in Cambridgeshire every year.”

Dr Robin says that as well as levels of smoking, there are a number of other lifestyle factors which are worse than the national average in Fenland.

“Levels of overweight and obesity in young children aged 4-5 in Fenland are higher than the national average at 25 per cent of children compared with 22 per cent nationally,” she says.

“Excess weight in children often leads to excess weight and associated poor health in adulthood.

“The percentage of adults who are overweight or obese is also significantly high in Fenland at 72 per cent compared to 64 per cent nationally and levels of physical activity are low.”

Dr Robin will tell a county health committee that “obesity and low physical activity levels increase people’s risk of diabetes, heart disease, cancer, muscle and joint problems and depression.

“These lifestyle factors are of particular concern, as they may lead to poorer healthy life expectancy and worsening health inequalities in the future.”

She warns: “Low rates of physical activity and high rates of obesity in both children and adults are seen in Fenland and this is associated with higher levels of diabetes. “Taken together with high rates of smoking and road traffic deaths, current lifestyle behaviours in Fenland may lead to worsening inequalities in future.”

Her report will focus on preventative measures which the county council, and health care groups, could consider to ensure better outcomes for Fenland.

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