Men who hail from the Cambridgeshire fens could die three years before those born in other areas of the county, a report suggests.
Figures show that the typical life expectancy for a man born in the Fenland area of Cambridgeshire – for example areas such as Chatteris, March or Wisbech – is 79 years.
Yet that compares to 82 years for a man born in South Cambridgeshire – or the ‘England average’ of 79.5 years.
A woman born in South Cambridgeshire – for example areas such as Great Shelford, Histon, Fulbourn or Arrington – could live to 85, compared to the England average of 83.
Men born in Cambridge city centre could live to 80, while women could live to 84.
The yawning health gap between people living in the same county was laid bare in the recently published Public Annual Health Report for Cambridgeshire.
While it is not directly explained why the life expectancy rates are so varied, the report looks at key lifestyle behaviours which impact on longer term health and wellbeing – and at trends in life expectancy and preventable deaths in the county.
Life expectancy 'significantly worse than national average'
The report said it was also important to note that for people on low incomes living in South Cambridgeshire, including Cambridge City, high housing costs can “significantly limit the income” they have available to meet other needs.
It states: “Life expectancy in Cambridgeshire as a whole has been consistently above the national average since 2001-03 and has improved by over three years for both men and women between 2001-03 and 2013-15.
“However life expectancy in the county has ‘plateaued’ more recently, with no improvement for men since 2010-12 and only a small improvement for women.
“Average life expectancy for men in Fenland in 2013-15 was 78.6 years (significantly worse than the national average), while all other districts in Cambridgeshire have above average male life expectancy, the highest being South Cambridgeshire at 82.1 years.
'Worrying upward movement' of preventable deaths
“For women life expectancy in Fenland is similar to the national average at 82.6 years, and again above average in all other districts, the highest being South Cambridgeshire at 85.2 years.”
In recent years, Fenland had a “worrying upward movement” of preventable deaths – with an increase in preventable deaths under the age of 75 from cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke).
The report adds: “While Cambridge City, with its young population, has a very low proportion of people with unhealthy weight – East Cambridgeshire, Huntingdonshire and in particular Fenland all have proportions of people with unhealthy weight significantly above the national average.
And more bad news for Fenland
“Fenland also has a high rate of people with recorded diabetes (associated with obesity) at 7.8 per cent of adults, compared with 6.4 per cent nationally.”
Both Cambridge City and Fenland have alcohol-related hospital admission rates which are significantly above the national average – and which have risen in recent years.
Rates in the other districts of Cambridgeshire remain below the national average.
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