Modern life makes it hard to be healthy. Whether we are eating the wrong things, drinking more than we should, continuing to smoke, or not being active enough, all of these things add up.
Behaviours such as eating too much unhealthy food, drinking more alcohol than is recommended, continuing to smoke and not being active enough are responsible for around 40% of all deaths in England, and cost the NHS more than £11 billion a year. (Source: Global Burden of Disease Study and PHE).
Given the impact of these lifestyle risk factors on health, changing behaviours and encouraging healthier lifestyles are a priority both nationally and locally in Slough.
What works to change people's behaviours has been studied extensively and recent successes in encouraging healthy choices include the multifaceted action to reduce smoking in the UK, using strategies such taxation and restrictions on advertising alongside personalised stop smoking support services.
Adults in Slough have reduced their smoking over the last five years, particularly adults who are routine and manual workers and pregnant women, which are both target groups for stop smoking support. The proportion of adults smoking in Slough is now 19%, just above the national average of 18%.
Alcohol causes harm to health through long term conditions but may also contribute to violent crime and antisocial behaviour. Crimes due to alcohol are a problem in Slough, however, the Safer Slough Partnership are working to tackle this. Though hospital admissions related to alcohol use are increasing in the borough, the rate of alcohol deaths is in fact coming down.
Children do not live in isolation, but as members of families. Therefore the lifestyle choices of adults in the borough have a significant impact on the lifestyles of children. This is reflected in the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity at age 10 and 11.
Approximately one in four adults in Slough are obese, similarly 24% of 10-11 year olds are obese. These trends are unfortunately increasing, however, encouragingly the proportion of overweight children aged 4-5 years is decreasing and is even better than the national average.
Healthy behaviours and lifestyles are important to preventing illness and can be best supported by cross-sector interagency partnership working.