Cut the booze, quit smoking and get healthy for a 'richer' life in Lincoln...
With more than 4,500 children living in poverty in Lincoln, the city council's Bee Better Off campaign aims to help people improve their fortunes. Quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, keeping fit and healthy eating are widely encouraged. But, as reporter Paul Whitelam discovers, there is more to good health than making the right choices...
The prognosis looks grim. The general health of Lincolnians is worse than the England average, there are worrying levels of deprivation and child poverty.
Life expectancy in the city is lower than the national average. And within Lincoln, it is 10.6 years lower for men and 5.8 years less for women in the most deprived areas than in wealthier parts.
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According to the Government's Health Profile for Lincoln 2012, a fifth of Year 6 children – 10 and 11-year-olds – and 23 per cent of adults are obese.
Rates of teenage pregnancy, alcohol related stays for under-18s, and smoking in pregnancy go beyond the national average.
This is the same picture with levels of sexually-transmitted infections and deaths from smoking.
The city council, with its partners including NHS Lincolnshire and Addaction, wants to get people to exercise more and eat healthily.
The authority is taking on board research from The King's Fund, the charity which shapes NHS policy.
Findings show a link between poor health and smoking, alcohol consumption, poor diet and a lack of exercise, which can also make people worse off financially.
Other studies highlight that men, and younger and poorer people, are more likely to smoke, drink excessively, eat badly and not exercise. The council already runs community fitness activities and plans to launch the Healthy City Network project in 2014-15 so that health features in every council policy.
This could include acting on opportunities to help people improve their health, for example quitting smoking in pregnancy.
Ric Metcalfe, leader of the council, said: "There's a direct link between poor health and many of the social and economic problems and disadvantages we face in Lincoln, like unemployment and low pay.
"While I welcome the work that is being done to encourage healthier lifestyles, we cannot see ill health only in terms of the bad choices that people make about diet, exercise, smoking and drinking.
"We need to be doing something about income and employment. People are not poor because they're spending loads of money on fags."
Dr Tony Hill, director of public health at NHS Lincolnshire, said smoking remains an issue in Lincoln.
"Although rates of smoking in Lincolnshire are dropping, Lincoln does remain one of the areas where more people continue to smoke," he said.