EATING too much, drinking and smoking are lifestyle choices which must be addressed if the health of the people of Cheshire is to improve.
Yet the same Cheshire Public Health Report 2006/2007 indicates we are generally living longer meaning the proportion of older people in the population is set to increase.
These twin challenges present themselves to the NHS as well as individuals who are reminded of the need to take responsibility for their own health and well-being.
For the second year Cheshire’s Primary Care Trusts have surveyed children’s Body Mass Index in schools. In western Cheshire, nearly 52% of children in Year 6 (aged 10 or 11 years) were surveyed, 18.8% and 14.7% were found to be obese or overweight respectively.
Cheshire also has “a high prevalence” of drinking above sensible weekly limits and binge drinking, compared to regional and national levels.
Sexual health among young people is a concern with Chlamydia being one of the most common sexually-transmitted infections in the United Kingdom which often goes undiagnosed.
A study at the Countess of Chester Hospital NHS Foundation Trust revealed a five-fold increase in the number of cases of uncomplicated Chlamydia detected at the Genito-Urinary Department between 1995 and 2004.
Demographic changes present a significant challenge to society.
Over the next 10 years, Western Cheshire Primary Care Trust’s population is expected to fall by around 4,500 people but there will be proportionately more older people (aged 65-80) and fewer children.
Demand for surgery such as hip and knee replacements and removing cataracts may go up and more people will survive with long-term conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and mental illness.
The Report 2006/07 calls for renewed efforts by the NHS and its partners to reduce the gap between those areas in Cheshire where people's health mirrors the national average and those areas where health is poorer in terms of heart disease, stroke, cancer and respiratory disease.
But it also asks local people to take responsibility for their own health by making healthier lifestyle choices.
The document has been published hand-in-hand with Western Cheshire Primary Care Trust’s 10-year strategy Transforming Health and Health Care: A Strategy to Improve Health and Health Care Services in Western Cheshire 2007 – 2017.