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Suffolk people 'nation's unhealthiest'

PUBLISHED: 11:12 16 August 2010 | UPDATED: 09:17 16 September 2010

A NEW report which says free medical treatments could be cut back as the NHS struggles under the strain of poor lifestyles has claimed Suffolk residents are among the nation's unhealthiest.

A NEW report which says free medical treatments could be cut back as the NHS struggles under the strain of poor lifestyles has claimed Suffolk residents are among the nation's unhealthiest.

The report claims people in the county do less exercise compared to 10 other regions in the country that were polled.

Visions of Britain 2020 maps out the potential impact of people eating unhealthily, exercising too little and drinking too much alcohol despite Government health campaigns.

Experts told the researchers they predicted treatments including IVF and fertility treatment, dental treatment, obesity surgery and drugs, dementia treatment and complementary therapies will no longer be free in 2020.

A poll for the report, made by Friends Provident and the Future Foundation, found Suffolk residents had the unhealthiest lifestyles, exercising the least compared with 10 other regions in the UK.

They were also least likely to take notice of their calorie intake and the least likely to follow recommended alcohol guidelines, according to the survey of 1,000 consumers.

Dr Sarah Brewer, a GP and medical journalist who was consulted for the report, said: “We all know that we should follow a healthy low-fat diet, eat at least five [portions of fruit and vegetables] a day etc.

“But how many actually do anything about it? Unless an unhealthy diet and lifestyle is penalised in some way, no-one will change.”

Trevor Matthews, chief executive officer of Friends Provident, said: “We all know the NHS will probably change in years to come, but some of the behaviours identified in the report mean that these changes will be much harder on us than what we expect. We all need to adopt healthier lifestyles or else risk being faced with penalties in the years ahead.”

Dr Peter Bradley, public health director for NHS Suffolk, said: “Statistics show people in Suffolk are relatively healthy compared to those in other parts of the country.

“Life expectancy is higher than the England average and is increasing in both sexes, and figures from 2003 to 2005 show deaths due to smoking, cancer, heart disease and stroke are lower than the England average.

“However, as with the rest of the nation, unhealthy lifestyles such as smoking, obesity and binge drinking affect all ages and communities and are a problem. Working with organisations in the county, the Healthy Ambitions Suffolk scheme aims to make Suffolk the healthiest county by 2028.”

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