Health improves across England

Greater life expectancy, better housing and a narrowing of the poverty gap have all been highlighted by the DoH as achievements since 2004's public health White Paper.

‘The Health Profile of England’ sets out improvements and challenges since the ‘Choosing Health’ White Paper and gives a comprehensive overview of the state of the nation’s health against 30 different markers.  

It shows a year-on-year decrease in mortality rates from cancer and circulatory diseases in the under-75s over the past 10 years.  

However, the report acknowledges a number of problem areas, including a continuing north-south divide and the growing problem of obesity which health minister Caroline Flint highlighted as her greatest concern.  

‘Our initial focus will be obese adults and children,’ she said. ‘The increase in child and adult obesity is storing up serious health problems for the future.’  

The DoH has published a follow-up document to the White Paper called ‘Health Challenge England’ which lays out its plans for greater cross-departmental working. It emphasises the role of local government in planning public health services.  

‘The Health Profile of England’ reveals that the percentage of children living in a family with less than half the average national income has fallen from 17 per cent in 2000 to 9 per cent in 2005.  

It shows the UK has the highest obesity rate in Europe. Northern areas have higher obesity rates and lower life expectancies.  

Boston in Lincolnshire was shown to have the highest obesity rate of any town in England.  

Women in the north live on average one year less than those in the south. Northern men’s life expectancy is two years shorter than men in the south.  

The report says 1.2 million people have stopped smoking since 1998. 

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