The Picture Of England's Health

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The third national Health Profile of England is published today and demonstrates improvements in critical areas of the nation's health. Death rates from cancer, heart disease and suicides continue to decline, whilst life expectancy is higher than ever and infant mortality at its lowest.

Key findings of the report show encouraging trends:

* declining mortality rates in targeted killers (cancers, all circulatory diseases and suicides); and

* increasing life expectancy, now at its highest ever level; and

* reducing infant mortality, now at its lowest ever level; and

* declining numbers of people who smoke; and

* increases in physical activity levels and fruit and vegetable consumption.

However, other trends highlight areas for improvement:

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* increasing levels of obesity in adults and children; and

* geographical inequalities across the country, with a clear north/south divide.

International comparisons show:

* Premature mortality rates from cancer for males have fallen substantially faster over the last 30 years than the EU-15 average and are now among the lowest in the EU-15; however

* the prevalence of obesity in England is the highest in the EU-15 countries, and one of the highest in the wider cohort of OECD countries

The Office for National Statistics also published figures today indicating that the trend in alcohol-related deaths is now levelling out, showing that there were 8,724 alcohol-related deaths in 2007, lower than in 2006.

Public Health Minister, Dawn Primarolo, said: "Seeing the nation's health and life expectancy improve is extremely encouraging. Sustained investment in targeted prevention and treatment have paid off. However, we have so much more to do and can't ever assume our work is done.

"The obesity epidemic in this country is an urgent priority. The Change4Life revolution is now well under way, motivating everyone to eat well, move more, and live longer. I urge anyone who sees themselves in today's figures to sign up to receive advice, tips, and support from nhs.uk/change4life or call 0300 123 4567.

"We are committed to reducing health inequalities, and have put in place the most comprehensive programme ever in this country to address them. Sir Michael Marmot is currently exploring future policy and action on reducing health inequalities in England."

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