Local health better than average
AS THE summer approaches and we contemplate shedding layers of clothing, we all become more conscious about our shape, health and diet. It is timely that the annual health profile for Ashford has been published, telling us how well we do compared with similar areas. Overall the picture is not bad. We enjoy comparatively good health and low levels of deprivation. But more than 3,400 children in Ashford live in low income households. Education is usually closely associated with good health, and pupils in our schools achieve a significantly higher level of A* to C GCSE passes. Housing is also one of the key determinants of health, so it is good news that only 0.2 per cent of Ashford’s council homes fall below the required standard. As for what we can do for ourselves, in terms of our lifestyle, the picture is more mixed. Life expectancy for men (78.7 years) and women (81.6 years) is higher than the national average, but there is a big gap in life expectancy of more than six years between the people living in the lowest 20 per cent of wards and the highest 20 per cent. While the figures for smoking look good, with the rate for death attributable to smoking, heart disease, cancer and stroke all below the national average, we do slightly worse on obesity. The estimated prevalence of obesity in adults is slightly worse than the national average, even though 28.5 per cent of adults are estimated to eat healthily. This figure, of just over a quarter, is alarmingly much better than average. Clearly the day of the deep fried Mars bar has not yet passed in some parts of the country. As always, then, we could do better, even though we are pretty healthy compared to other parts of Britain. We all know what we should be doing; it’s just a question of willpower.