Changing city's health for the better
THE health of people in Plymouth is generally worse than the England average – but we're asking you to help us change that by joining The Herald's loveLIFE campaign.
Latest figures from the Department of Health show that we have over 66,000 people suffering deprivation – that's nearly 26 per cent of the population – compared to just under 20 per cent nationally.
We also have 10,400 children living in poverty and 280 homeless people living on city streets.
Life expectancy for both men and women is also lower than the England average, with the lives of men living in some of our most deprived areas being shortened by nearly 10 years, four years for women, compared to our wealthier areas.
Plymouth also has the highest childhood obesity rate in the South West.
The annual National Child Measurement programme saw almost 5,000 city children weighed and measured last year.
Results showed that 33.7 per cent of youngsters aged between 10 and 11-years-old, in the last year of primary school, were overweight or obese.
The figure was 25.1 per cent for children in reception year.
And the estimated levels of adult healthy eating, smoking, sexually transmitted infections, smoking related deaths, and hospital stays for alcohol related harm are all worse than the national average, too.
Nearly 19 per cent of women in the city continue smoking throughout their pregnancy, nearly five per cent higher than the average for England.
And a quarter of the city's adult population smokes – again five per cent higher than the national average.
In Plymouth our 48,000 smokers spend over £1million every week on buying tobacco and we experience 600 avoidable deaths from smoking related diseases in the city every year.
To add to this, smoking annually costs the city £78.2million – that's £280 a year for each and every city resident.
Smoking remains the single biggest direct cause of health inequalities in Plymouth.
Jane Bullard, tobacco control lead for Public Health Plymouth, described the city as the "poor man" of the South West.
"We have the highest prevalence of smoking in the South West," she said. "Higher than Bristol and Torbay.
"In that sense we are the poor man of South West.
"The figures for Plymouth are truly disturbing but it does show how smoking is affecting everyone in the city.
"I would urge everyone to think about how they can help reduce the numbers of lives lost to smoking each year and how we can prevent our children and young people from taking up this deadly habit."
Meanwhile, only 11 per cent of adults are physically active, with one in four adults classed as obese.
The figures go on to show that we have over 2,000 people aged between 15 and 64-years-old with a problem with crack cocaine or heroin and 23 per cent of people over the age of 16 have a problem with alcohol.
The Herald has re-launched its loveLIFE campaign for another year to help make a dent in these statistics - and have great fun doing it.
We have set four goals, and we want you to help us work towards them between now and the end of the year.
Our challenges to Plymouth are to:
Kick the habit – if you're giving up smoking, drink or drugs we want to hear from you
Get active – whether you're going to do a weekly walk, a gentle cycle or a half-marathon we want you to tell us
Feel better – let us know what you're doing to tackle things like stress, anxiety and depression
Lose weight – if you're planning to drop a dress size or lose a few extra pounds we want you to let us know.
Whether you're young, old, fit, not so fit, large or small we want to hear from you and we want you to be part of Team loveLIFE for 2013.
Sign up to the loveLIFE campaign now at www.heraldlovelife.co.uk, email firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet us @heraldlovelife or call us on 01752 765529.