Borough is one of the most active in England

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As a campaign begins to make Suffolk the most active county, figures show Bury St Edmunds is ahead of the game.

The multi-agency Most Active County campaign aims to help at least 16,700 people to lead more active healthy lives to reduce health problems and help Suffolk attract more mainstream sporting events.

But figures from Sport England show St Edmundsbury has one of the country’s highest percentages of population getting involved in active recreation at 28 per cent. It is beaten only by Winchester at 29.9 per cent and Elmbridge, Surrey, at 30.6 per cent.

St Edmundsbury also shows the highest rate of improvement since 2005 at 8.7 per cent, more than double Winchester’s.

Forest Heath manages a creditable 25.3 per cent in active recreation, while 22.8 per cent of Mid Suffolk’s population partake, putting them above the county average of 20.9 per cent.

But the campaign will have its work cut out in Ipswich where only 16.5 per cent have active recreation. That is only 0.6 per cent above the country’s worst, the London borough of Brent.

Most Active County partners include county, district and borough councils, NHS Suffolk, Healthy Ambitions Suffolk, Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, ITFC Trust, Suffolk Sport and Sport England.

The campaign says almost half of adults in the county are physically inactive with just one in five taking part in recommended levels of sport and activity, while one in six 11-year-olds are obese.

One study estimated the health cost of physical inactivity in Suffolk is at least £12.2 million per year.

On the other hand, major sporting events have had a positive impact on Suffolk’s economy. The Great East Swim and the Tour of Britain delivered a £2.8 million boost and more than £252,000 has been raised for charities by Great East Swimmers

Olympic discus thrower and Suffolk Sport chairman Prof Bill Tancred said: “I fully support its aims and aspirations and we are looking forward to working with a wide range of similar minded organisations to ensure Suffolk has a healthy, active future.”