Lo­cal health bet­ter than av­er­age

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - OPINION - by Damian Green

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.

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