How healthy are our towns?

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Corby has been revealed to have the highest amount of smokers in the entire country, with more than a third of the town regularly lighting up.

The latest health profiles show how healthy each of our towns are, and it makes for grim reading for obesity rates, with roughly one in four adults classed as overweight in Kettering, Corby, Wellingborough and Rushden.

Kettering has also been named as the town with the fifth highest amount of smokers in the country, at 29 per cent, with the NHS making it a priority to encourage people to give up the habit.

Professor Stephen Horsley, director of public health at NHS Northamptonshire, said: “We’ve got high levels of smoking, we’ve got problems with obesity and physical activity, and in some places people perhaps drink too much. They are our priorities.

“We aren’t making improvements for smoking that perhaps we should be. Other places have managed to achieve lower levels of adult smoking.

“Smoking levels in California are at 14 per cent, so Corby is double that. People in Corby live a dated lifestyle.”

With the percentage of adults smoking in the county at 23 per cent – higher than the national average – Professor Horsley said he hopes to get the figure down to below 20 per cent, with GPs now able to refer people to cessation services.

With about 18,000 smokers in Corby, the town’s cancer death rates have soared in recent years to the fifth highest the country.

Other areas for improvement include getting more people to exercise, with Wellingborough having the fourth worst rate of physically active residents in the whole country.

But aside from simply bringing down statistics, Professor Horsley says he wants to make sure the county’s residents have a better life.

He added: “What’s the point in being old if you can’t do anything?

“I think we have improved health in the county but I don’t think we are improving quality of life. We’ve got some beautiful parks and cycle areas in the county, and taking a walk is free.

“I want people to say they want to come to Northamptonshire because they want a better quality of life.

“We are afraid that if we don’t reduce obesity we’re going to have a big rise in people who have diabetes.”

The organisation promotes the NHS’ Change For Life programme, which assesses individuals’ fitness and gives them a healthier lifestyle plan.

Local health and well-being forums are also being set up in county towns, featuring local GPs and councillors to tackle priority issues.

With high levels of obese adults and children in Wellingborough, the council has launched a series of initiatives to combat the problem.

Its mini-MEND programme for overweight children was completed by 46 youngsters this year and the council encourages people to take part in the Waendel Walk to help get fit.

Wellingborough Council’s deputy leader Barry Graves said: “We acknowledge that we have problems with obesity and physical activity in Wellingborough.

“We can’t force people to take better care of their health but we do offer a lot of support and education and have a great number of easily accessible programmes to help.”

Jackie Brown is sport and physical activity manager at Northants Sport, the organisation tasked with getting the county fitter.

She said: “There are many benefits in getting physically active, not least the health and social side. Being inactive can be very detrimental.

“We target certain groups and work with our partners like Age UK to try and get more people to join groups.

“There are about 45 jogging groups in the county all run by volunteers, and the majority of new sign-ups are female, who perhaps don’t want to run on their own.”

Corby

About 33 per cent of adults smoke in the town, a number which has rocketed from 25 per cent in 2011.

The town has a high teenage pregnancy rate.

There were 89 early deaths from cancer, and 117 smoking related deaths – the ninth worst in England.

About 18 per cent of Year 6 children are obese.

Over the last 10 years, early death rate from heart disease and stroke has fallen.

Kettering

About 29 per cent of adults smoke in the town, up from 21 per cent last year.

An estimated 15 per cent of mothers smoke while pregnant.

About 17 per cent of Year 6 children are obese – lower than the national average.

The rate of hospital stays for alcohol related harm is better than the national average, but there were 234 hospital stays for self-harmers.

Over the last 10 years, all death cause rates have fallen.

Wellingborough

Only 7.6 per cent of adults undertake regular exercise – the fourth worst in the country.

About 27 per cent of adults are classed as obese, which is the highest in the county.

Only 58 pensioners per 100,000 suffered hip fractures, the second best figure in the UK.

Childhood obesity for Year 6 pupils has gone down from 20.3 per cent in 2011 to 18.9 per cent.

The rate of sexually transmitted diseases is worse than the national average.

Homelessness is high in the town.

East Northamptonshire

With 112 pensioners per 100,000 suffering a hip fracture, East Northants is the seventh worst in the UK.

It is the sixth best in the country for excess winter deaths.

One in four adults smoke, while one in five adults are obese.

Rates of sexually transmitted diseases, smoking-related deaths and hospital stays for alcohol-related harm are better than the national average.

About 17.9 per cent of Year 6 Children are classed as obese.

About 2,200 children live in poverty, which is below the average.