Turning off heating, not eating enough food, and avoiding health services are just some of the issues raised as to how the cost of living could impact people’s health.

Officials have highlighted the potential short and long-term health impacts on people due to increases in the cost of living.

One official said they knew of people who said they had been turning their fridges off in order to reduce the amount of electricity they use.

The issues were raised at a board meeting of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough health and wellbeing board, and integrated care partnership on October 14.

Jyoti Atri, the director of public health for Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, explained they want to set out the potential health consequences of increases to the cost of living, so that they would be considered as the board developed its priorities for its health and wellbeing strategy.

Vicki Peacey, consultant in public health, said increases in food prices could lead to people missing meals leading to a risk of malnutrition.

She also said people could switch to cheaper high calorie food, which increased the risk of obesity.

She highlighted that turning off heating increased the risk of hypothermia, and said living in a cold home in the long term increased the risk of stroke, heart disease, respiratory disease and asthma.

Ms Peacey raised to the board that some people with medical conditions will face higher energy costs, for example to power medical machines.

She said: “This will drive up energy costs and could make people have to make difficult decisions.

“Some people may not be able to afford health services where there is a cost, such as getting a prescription or visiting the dentist, or may be deterred from accessing services if there is a perceived cost.

“This does not just apply to people on low incomes, but also to people on slightly higher incomes where they “have no slack” in their finances.”

Ms Peacey repeatedly highlighted that all of the issues raised also contributed to increased stress and anxiety, which she said could impact relationships such as people’s ability to parent.

She also said there could “quite probably” be an increase in drug and alcohol use as a “coping mechanism”.

Ms Peacey said that this would all have a knock-on impact on health care services seeing increased demand. She also recognised that services themselves will be impacted by increased costs.

The meeting heard that information on support for the cost of living was included on Cambridgeshire County Council and Peterborough City Council websites.

Updates were also shared on work to set up warm hubs across the county, and how authorities were trying to share information and identify those in need.