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Ambitious life expectancy targets

PUBLISHED: 18:50 24 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:20 03 July 2010

MEN in some of the poorest areas of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft are likely to die 10 years earlier than the east of England average, new figures reveal.

MEN in some of the poorest areas of Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft are likely to die 10 years earlier than the east of England average, new figures reveal.

Life expectancy is just 69 in deprived areas of the two towns, according to a study by the Yarmouth and Waveney Primary Care Trust.

The towns also fall short of the regional average on a host of other health indices ranging from cancer and heart disease rates to the percentage of smokers and obese adults.

Deprivation in Yarmouth's poorest Nelson ward - determined by the state of health and levels of education and unemployment - is six times worse than more affluent parts of the area.

The figures emerge in a comprehensive “health atlas” compiled by the PCT to shape a far-reaching health and well-being improvement strategy.

It plans to kick-start the work with a multi-million-pound investment when it finalises its budget for the coming financial year.

Director of public health, Dr Alistair Lipp, who has spearheaded the collection of data, said: “Our ambitious target is to become the area with the fastest improving health nationally but that won't happen overnight - some projects will have a quite rapid impact but others will take a few years to see improvements.”

He said prevention and education would be an important plank of the strategy, with a number of community projects - some already being run as pilots - being rolled out across both towns.

These included the Mend programme - standing for Mind, Exercise, Nutrition, Do-It - offering guidance to obese seven to 13 year-olds and their families. “We are also looking at a similar scheme for 13 to 17-year-olds and one for pre-school youngsters to be run through children's centres,” said Dr Lipp.

There would also be investment to improve the poor rates of breast feeding - known to be an early factor in obesity - and the development of the existing community cook project offering practical advice to mothers.

Dr Lipp said the strategy would also focus on improving care for heart attack, stroke and cancer victims and developing programmes to increase early detection rates.

There were an estimated 10,000 people in the PCT area at high risk of coronary heart disease.

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