Damning health report reveals Portsmouth’s middle-aged population drink, smoke and eat far too much

Middle-aged people in Portsmouth need to improve their lifestyles
Middle-aged people in Portsmouth need to improve their lifestyles
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HEALTH bosses have issued a stark warning to Portsmouth’s overweight middle-aged population – change your lifestyles before it’s too late.

An alarming dossier into the city’s wellbeing highlights that residents aged 35 to 64 are smoking, drinking and eating far too much – and have got to urgently change their habits.

The findings for Portsmouth’s middle-aged adults are concerning. Many people in this age group urgently need to prepare for a healthy older age.

Portsmouth City Council’s director of public health, Dr Janet Maxwell

A quarter of 35 to 64-year-olds are obese, compared to 11 per cent of 16 to 34-year-olds – and 27 per cent of those between the age of 35 and 44 are at ‘high risk’ of developing an ‘alcohol misuse disorder’. And experts say it’s now time people stop ruining their lives before major health problems set in.

Portsmouth City Council’s director of public health Dr Janet Maxwell, one of the main contributors to the Portsmouth How Are You? report, wrote: ‘The findings for Portsmouth’s middle-aged adults are concerning.

‘Many people in this age group urgently need to prepare for a healthy older age.

‘Making it easier for people to stop smoking, be more physically active, reduce alcohol consumption, adopt a healthy diet and achieve and/or maintain a healthy weight will reduce the risk of dementia, disability and frailty.

‘Making healthy changes can reduce the risk of a number of diseases including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, some cancers and dementia.’

The report adds that the results go ‘some way to explaining why Portsmouth has among the highest alcohol-related mortality rates in the country’.

Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond says the warning must be taken seriously.

She said: ‘It’s absolutely important these findings are taken seriously.

‘We have huge disparities between ages of death in the city.

‘You can go from one street to the next and there will be a 10-year difference. Drinking and smoking are obviously huge issues.

‘There’s also a lack of activity. We have a fantastic seafront. Just walk up and down for an hour and it’s free.

‘There is so much free activity you can do here. I just wish people would get out more. I spoke to someone who has lived in Somers Town their whole life and they said they had never thought about taking their children to the seafront because they thought it would be expensive.’

A fifth of 35 to 64-year-olds smoke, compared with 14 per cent of young people, and adults are more likely to ‘exhibit multiple unhealthy behaviours’ – smoking, drinking, poor diet and a lack of exercise.

The shocking findings are based on a survey of 5,000 homes in the city.

Fifty-seven per cent of residents who describe their diet as healthy do not actually eat five fruit and vegetables a day.

Of those who say they are fit or very fit, one in eight are doing less than the recommended amount of physical activity a week.

Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt says there are now more incentives than ever in the city to keep fit – such as free cycling events which the council has set up.

But she agrees more people need to shape up and think about their diet.

Ms Mordaunt said: ‘We should not neglect instilling good habits in young people. But there are also more options now in the city to be active. Hopefully more will continue to be done on cycling, and by way of improving routes into the city. It’s not just about going out and running a marathon, it’s also about going for a walk and gentle exercise.

‘Education is part of it. We have done a huge amount to tackle serious alcohol abuse and people getting into trouble on a Friday and Saturday night.’

But there are some positives for older people – 88 per cent said they feel well-informed about how to look about themselves and 71 per cent of residents who have given up smoking did so without any help.

Younger adults report they have the best quality of health and are more active. But 14 per cent say they have used illegal drugs or new psychoactive substances in the past 12 months.

‘COMMISSIONERS NEED TO DO MORE’

The MP for Portsmouth North says local health commissioners must do more to stop people falling into bad health habits.

Penny Mordaunt believes authorities should pool their funding and spend more time working on ways to prevent alcohol and food addiction – instead of dealing with the problems once they set in.

Ms Mordaunt believes that will then relieve pressure on Queen Alexandra Hospital’s already-strained A&E department.

Speaking to The News, Ms Mordaunt said: ‘Portsmouth City Council and other local commissioners need to ensure, while Queen Alexandra Hospital has serious problems that demand attention, that they don’t take their eyes away from prevention and community services.

‘That’s where we need to put the bulk of our health budget, whether it’s on things like rehabilitation programmes.

‘We would get more bang for our local buck if we brought our budgets together and looked at the whole pot of money we have for healthcare in the city.

‘At every seminar I have been on this issue, that is the conclusion.

‘That way we would see more money going into community facilities and programmes.’

‘SURVEY GIVES US CHANCE TO IMPROVE BEHAVIOURS’

A city health expert says the findings will help to improve work being done to ensure people get healthy.

Kate Lee, a consultant in Public Health at Portsmouth City Council, said: ‘The survey gives us the chance to see what people think about their health and their health behaviours.

‘It means we can help target some of their problems and see how we can serve them better with our services.

‘It also gives us the opportunity to hold up a mirror and ask what they are doing about their health.

‘We can highlight to them the problems they are facing and what is going on with them. Part of it is just letting them know what help is out there. It’s important they have healthy lifestyles because most of them are parents or caring for their parents. They can pass on those bad behaviours to their children.’