Swindon AdvertiserReport gives town a poor bill of health (From Swindon Advertiser)

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Report gives town a poor bill of health

Swindon Advertiser: Cherry Jones, the acting director of public health, who previously led  campaigns to encourage people to give up smoking, tackle obesity and be more aware of the dangers of alcohol, says there are no quick fixes for the town’s health problems Cherry Jones, the acting director of public health, who previously led campaigns to encourage people to give up smoking, tackle obesity and be more aware of the dangers of alcohol, says there are no quick fixes for the town’s health problems

FROM skyrocketing diabetes to abysmal levels of obesity, self-harm and sexually-transmitted infections, Swindon cut a worrying figure in a new report released by Public Health England.

The level of acute sexually transmitted diseases contracted in Swindon was 1,876 a year, according to the latest 2010 Health Profile for Swindon - or a rate of 895 per 100,000 people compared to 804 in the rest of England.

The body also recorded 695 hospital stays as a result of self harm in Swindon or a rate of 315.6, worse than the average of 188 in the rest of England.

Swindon remained one of the hardest-hit by diabetes with 10,859 sufferers.

Obesity was also high with 22.6 per cent of adults classified as obese – although in line with the national average of 23 per cent.

According to the profile, 1,230 people were hospitalised due to alcohol-related harm. This represented a 625 per 100,000 rate, slightly lower than the 637 per 100,000 reported nationally.

Despite campaigns to tackle obesity, encourage exercise and raise awareness of the dangers of alcohol among many others, Cherry Jones, acting director of public health at Swindon Council, said there were no ‘quick fixes’ to the town’s health issues.

“The national epidemic of diabetes and obesity are big issues in Swindon and unfortunately there are no quick fixes,” she said. “Tackling these interrelated problems is a top priority and we are investing considerable resources not only into diagnosis, but more importantly, early intervention, preventative action and creating environments for people to be more active. These conditions are particularly prevalent in more deprived parts of the borough, and we are determined to address this inequality gap.

“For instance, we have a team of Health Ambassadors and volunteer Health Champions, who focus on target areas and provide free one-to-one support and advice on a wide range of lifestyle matters, such as diet, smoking and physical activity.

“The report also shows that sexually transmitted diseases and self-harm related hospital stays are hotspots for Swindon. However, high levels in these areas compared to other areas can be misleading. For instance, high rates of Chlamydia detection demonstrate an effective testing programme and Swindon is in the top third of local authorities reaching the nationally recommended level. Similarly, through effective partnership working with mental health services we are better placed to both identify and deal with self-harm related injuries, which can often slip under the radar and be misrecorded or missed altogether.”

But change and progress will only be sustained and possible if individuals commit to improving their own health, Mrs Jones added.

“This summary confirms the key issues which pose massive danger to both our own health and that of our family and friends, not just now but in future years. Success is dependent on an individual’s active, sustained commitment to change, for example to reduce daily sugar intake and start walking regularly,” she said. “We are continually working with our partners to create lots of opportunities for people to be more enjoyably active.”

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