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Welcome to the Public Health online newsfeed. Here you’ll find all the latest research, news stories, policy updates and guidelines. View our other newsfeeds for more subject-specific news.

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Healthy High Streets

This report is aimed at local decision makers and examines how high streets are used as an asset to improve the overall health of local communities.

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This review provides a rapid assessment of evidence relating to pedestrian friendly, healthy high streets in urban settings, with specific reference to design interventions and street furniture. Evidence relating to both children and adults is considered, alongside groups who may have specific needs or preferences such as older people, younger people, disabled people  and different ethnic groups.

For optimum health promotion, high streets should:

  • be inclusive of people from all walks of life
  • be easy to navigate, including crossings
  • provide shade, shelter and places to stop and rest
  • be walkable and provide options for cycling
  • have low levels of noise and air pollution
  • provide things to see and do
  • have a health-promoting retail offer
  • ensure people feel relaxed and safe
  • consider the local context of the high street, its features and current use, and how all these factors interact with one another

The review illustrates how, across a broad range of local stakeholders, a greater understanding of how place and people interact could help realise the potential of our high streets, and contribute to health and economic gains of our local communities.

Full review: Healthy High Streets: Good Place Making in an Urban Setting

Stop smoking services

Feeling the heat: the decline of stop smoking services in England |Cancer Research UK and Action on Smoking and Health

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This report publishes findings from a survey of local authority tobacco control leads which indicates that half of local authorities cut budgets for stop smoking services in 2017.

The report highlights both the ongoing challenges faced by tobacco control professionals and the diversity of their responses to these challenges.

Full report: Feeling the heat: the decline of stop smoking services in England

See also: Funding cuts mean stop smoking services can’t offer support | Cancer Research UK

Improving the wellbeing of young people

This report highlights associations between health behaviours, other self-rated life factors (such as bullying and body image) and wellbeing | Public Health England

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The 2014 What About YOUth? (WAY) survey included measures of wellbeing which can be analysed to examine the relationships between health behaviours and attitudes on the wellbeing of 15-year-olds.

This report highlights 4 main findings:

  1. Young people who engaged in behaviour which might harm their health such as drinking and smoking, having poor diet or exercising rarely, or who had negative feelings towards their body size reported lower wellbeing than those who did not.
  2. Self-reported wellbeing varied depending on the relative affluence or deprivation of the family, with those whose families were in more affluent groups and living in the least deprived areas reporting higher average wellbeing.
  3. Young people who stated that they had a disability, long-term illness or medical condition reported lower wellbeing than those who did not.
  4. Young people who described their sexual orientation as gay, lesbian, bisexual or ‘other’ were more likely to have lower wellbeing than those who declared themselves heterosexual. On average these young people also reported lower life satisfaction and happiness, and higher anxiety.

Commissioners and providers of health, social care and education can use this information to target local resources where they are likely to have most impact in terms of improving the wellbeing of young people.

Full document: The wellbeing of 15-year-olds: analysis of the What About YOUth? survey

Sexual health services

The Royal of General Practitioners has responded to the new sexual health campaign from Public Health England by publishing Time to Act.

This report highlights that fragmented commissioning practices mean that GPs are increasingly unable to direct patients to the most appropriate sexual health services for their needs, and GPs are not being given adequate training to administer all different types of contraception that might benefit patients.

Full report available here

Launch of sexual health campaign

Public Health England has launched Protect against STIs a new sexual health campaign to encourage condom use by young adults in order to reduce the rates of sexually transmitted infections.

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The campaign is the first government sexual health campaign in eight years.  To coincide with the launch of the campaign, a new YouGov survey of 2,007 young people reveals current attitudes towards condom use and what prevents them from using protection.

The findings revealed that almost half (47%) of sexually active young people said they have had sex with someone new for the first time without using a condom; whilst 1 in 10 sexually active young people said that they had never used a condom.

The new research also revealed that sexual health is a challenging topic for young adults to discuss, as 56% of men and 43% of women said that it is difficult to talk about STIs with friends. Furthermore, 58% said that if they had an STI they would find it difficult to talk to their sexual partner about it.

Visit the campaign website for more information.

A new form of nicotine retailers: a systematic review of the sales and marketing practices of vape shops.

Lee JGL, Orlan EN, Sewell KB, Ribisl KM.  A new form of nicotine retailers: a systematic review of the sales and marketing practices of vape shops.  Tob Control. 2017 Dec 05

VapingOBJECTIVE: Retailers that primarily or exclusively sell electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) or vaping products represent a new category of tobacco retailer. We sought to identify (a) how vape shops can be identified and (b) sales and marketing practices of vape shops.
DATA SOURCES: A medical librarian iteratively developed a search strategy and in February 2017 searched seven academic databases (ABI/INFORM Complete, ECONLit, Embase, Entrepreneurship, PsycINFO, PubMed/MEDLINE and Scopus). We hand searched Tobacco Regulatory Science and Tobacco Prevention & Cessation.
STUDY SELECTION: We used dual, independent screening. Records were eligible if published in 2010 or later, were peer-reviewed journal articles and focused on vape shops.
DATA EXTRACTION: We used dual, independent data abstraction and assessed risk of bias. Of the 3605 records identified, 22 were included.
DATA SYNTHESIS: We conducted a narrative systematic review. Researchers relied heavily on Yelp to identify vape shops. Vape shop owners use innovative marketing strategies that sometimes diverge from those of traditional tobacco retailers. Vape shop staff believe strongly that their products are effective harm-reduction products. Vape shops were more common in areas with more White residents.
CONCLUSIONS: Vape shops represent a new type of retailer for tobacco products. Vape shops have potential to promote e-cigarettes for smoking cessation but also sometimes provide inaccurate information and mislabelled products. Given their spatial patterning, vape shops may perpetuate inequities in tobacco use. The growing literature on vape shops is complicated by researchers using different definitions of vape shops (eg, exclusively selling e-cigarettes vs also selling traditional tobacco products).

 

Transforming children and young people’s mental health

Ways for schools and colleges to support pupils’ mental health are set out in a green paper, as well as plans for new mental health support teams.

The government has published proposals to improve mental health support for children and young people in England. Over £300 million has been made available to fund them.

The government is asking people for their views on the planned measures, which are set out in a green paper. The measures include:

  • encouraging every school and college to have a ‘designated senior mental health lead’
  • setting up mental health support teams working with schools, to give children and young people earlier access to services
  • piloting a 4-week waiting time for NHS children and young people’s mental health services

Other proposals in the green paper include:

  • a new working group to look at mental health support for 16 to 25-year-olds
  • a report by the Chief Medical Officer on the impact that technology has on children and young people’s mental health, to be produced in 2018

The consultation on the green paper will run for 13 weeks until 2 March 2018.

Full paper: Transforming children and young people’s mental health provision: a green paper

This short video describes the main proposals in the green paper.