Town a drinking and smoking health hazard

ONE in five people in Eastbourne smoke and the number of drinkers considered at risk because of their boozing has sky-rocketed over the last two decades as the town sits on a ticking timebomb of health problems.

Figures released by the NHS this week reveal a worrying trend among locals for downing more than is good for them. Back in 1992 the number of people grouped in the ‘increasing risk’ and ‘higher risk’ drinker category sat at around nine per cent.

As of last year that number had increased to 15 per cent – a movement the NHS deems a significant change.

That is a bigger jump than the average for East Sussex as a whole and according to the people who compiled the report, shows those who are drink are drinking more.

That is because the overall level of locals who drink has remained fairly static in the 19 years since the first study.

The annual review of health in East Sussex also showed that whereas the county registered around an eight per cent drop in the number who regularly smoke, here in Eastbourne that figure fell by just two-three per cent – leaving the town with the shameful statistic of 20 per cent, or one in five, locals lighting up.

That rate is second only to Hastings, which has the even less enviable rate of one in four people smoking.

Other areas of concern include the amount of people here in Eastbourne who take part in the recommended 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.

The rate has increased in recent years, up from around 18 per cent to 24 per cent, but still represents a 76 per cent rate of locals NOT doing it.

And less than half of locals are managing to fit in the Government’s suggested five a day of fruit and veg, although the figure has increased from 39 per cent in 2003 to 45 per cent in 2011.

The upshot of these stats is that 24.9 per cent of adults in Eastbourne, around one in four, are classified as obese – a condition which brings with it a host of health concerns, including heart problems, diabetes and high cholesterol.

A look at the county’s mental health needs also suggests that, together with Hastings, Eastbourne has a higher prevalence of severe mental health illness than the rest of East Sussex – with high levels of neuroses, psychoses and depression.

The number of teenage pregnancies (women aged between 15 and 17) is also significantly higher in Eastbourne than the national average, with 48 pregnancies per 1,000 girl in that age bracket. Only Hastings polled worse.

Eastbourne also comes out top of the number of hospital admissions for falls in people aged over 65 (during 2008/09), with 1,963 compared to 1,842 in second placed Wealden.