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Inactivity costs economy £18m

PUBLISHED: 09:47 06 January 2010 | UPDATED: 09:04 01 August 2010

HEALTH problems associated with inactivity is costing the Suffolk economy more than £18million a year - but health bosses admit they are struggling to encourage future generations to buck the trend.

HEALTH problems associated with inactivity is costing the Suffolk economy more than £18million a year - but health bosses admit they are struggling to encourage future generations to buck the trend.

A new report says it has been “challenging” trying to engage people aged 16 to 24 to take up more exercise.

A concerted effort is now being made to make physical activity more appealing for youngsters.

The report, by NHS Suffolk's director of public health, added: “During 2010 we will be working in partnership with young people to help them design opportunities and incentives for their age group.”

Currently, only one in nine people meets the recommended guideline of 30 minutes exercise three to four times a week.

Those behind a multi-agency drive to make Suffolk the healthiest county in the UK hope to increase this figure by 4.5pc by March next year, saving nearly £600,000.

They estimate the county picks up an annual bill of around £18.5million for dealing with health problems linked with being overweight.

The situation has been laid bare in a progress report on Healthy Ambitions Suffolk (HAS), which is due to go before Suffolk County Council's cabinet next week.

The county council is major stakeholder in HAS, which was launched in 2008 to make people in Suffolk the healthiest by 2028.

Dr Peter Bradley, director of public health at NHS Suffolk and Suffolk County Council, said: “The majority of people in Suffolk don't exercise as much as the national guidelines suggest.

“The relationship between inactivity and obesity is quite close. It is quite harming to your health. We need to find a way of engaging with people on their terms.

“It varies from person to person. For many people, it is going to mean walking instead of taking the car or making exercise a social activity with friends or family. It is about finding a way that really appeals to each person.”

The drive was recently boosted by a survey by Sport England, which showed that the number of adults taking part in that amount of exercise had increased more than anywhere else in the East of England.

But the proportion was still shy of the 21.9pc national average.

The county is also battling an obesity crisis after it emerged the number of hospital admissions because of being overweight had more than doubled over the last three years, jumping by 80pc in the last year alone.

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