The role of cities in improving population health: international insights

The King’s Fund | June 2018 | The role of cities in improving population health: international insights

A new publication from The King’s Fund argues that Metro mayors and other city leaders should be empowered to take greater responsibility for improving the health of the nation’s cities (The King’s Fund). city-2042634_1280.pngOverview

  • Cities are playing a growing role in population health improvement and have enormous potential to be health-generating places. However, they also face considerable challenges and need to be governed in a way that gives all citizens the opportunity to enjoy good health.
  • Drawing on international case studies, this report explores the role of cities in improving population health and the conditions needed for success. It is based on 50 interviews with leaders from 14 cities and includes an extended case study on London that examines the lessons the city might learn from elsewhere.
  • The King’s Fund  research found that although there is wide variation between cities in terms of governance arrangements, powers and resources, there are also some common themes. One is that improving population health depends on co-ordinated action at multiple levels and ensuring that decisions in areas such as housing, employment and transport planning all have a positive impact on health. This city-wide co-ordination requires effective leadership, robust governance, and adequate investment in central programme management.
  • The role of political leadership is also critical. Elected mayors and other city leaders have soft powers beyond their formal responsibilities that they can use to drive pro-health policies. Significant improvements in population health are possible when city leaders are willing to invest their own political capital to advocate for change.
  • In England, debate about the role of cities is closely connected with the devolution agenda, with new ‘metropolitan mayors’ now covering one‑fifth of the country’s population. Policy-makers should explore the case for giving cities further fiscal and regulatory freedoms to enable them to tackle population health challenges more effectively. (Source: The King’s Fund)

An accompanying press release from The King’s Fund is available here

The full report can be downloaded from The King’s Fund 


Children consume more than a year’s worth of sugar in 6 months

Public Health England | June 2018 | Children consume more than a year’s worth of sugar in 6 months

It may only be June, but according to figures released today by Public Health England (PHE), children in England have already consumed the equivalent of a year’s intake of sugar.  PHE emphasises how children are on track to consume around 4,800 cubes of sugar by the end of the year, more than double the maximum recommendation (PHE).


Sugary soft drinks remain one of the main contributors of free sugars to children’s diets, more than ice cream and puddings combined.

The other sources of sugar in children’s diets are:

  • Sugary soft drinks (including squashes, juice drinks, energy drinks, cola and other fizzy drinks) 10%
  • Buns, cakes, pastries and fruit pies 10%
  • Sugars, including table sugar, preserves and sweet spreads 9%
  • Biscuits 9%
  • Breakfast cereals 8%
  • Chocolate confectionery 7%
  • Sugar confectionery 7%
  • Yoghurt, fromage frais and other dairy desserts 6%
  • Ice cream 5%
  • Puddings 4%

The full story is at PHE 


Change4Life Easy ways to be food smart 
In the media:

BBC News Children in England consuming ‘twice as much sugar as recommended’


Dementia patients could remain at home longer thanks to ground breaking technology

Innovative new technology could enable people with dementia to receive round the clock observation and live independently in their own homes, a new study reports. | University of Surrey | via ScienceDaily


Researchers from the University of Surrey in partnership with Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have developed state of the art Artificial  technologies, powered by machine learning algorithms, to monitor the wellbeing of people with dementia.

The study known as Technology Integrated Health Management (TIHM) for dementia, uses the ‘Internet of Things,’ a network of internet enabled devices (sensors, monitors and trackers) installed in homes, which can detect an immediate crisis as well as changes in people’s health and daily routines. Any change could indicate a potential health issue and if identified early could prevent a person from becoming seriously unwell and requiring emergency hospital admission.

The well-being of people with dementia can also be monitored using this innovative technology which can detect agitation and irritability.

Full story at ScienceDaily

Journal reference:  Shirin Enshaeifar, S. et al. | Health management and pattern analysis of daily living activities of people with dementia using in-home sensors and machine learning techniques | PLOS ONE |  2018; 13 (5):



Brexit Health Alliance calls for co-operation on infectious diseases

The UK risks the spread of antibiotic-resistant and other infectious diseases if it leaves the European Union’s (EU) early warning system after Brexit without an effective replacement, the Brexit Health Alliance has warned.


This briefing from the Brexit Health Alliance (BHA) and the Faculty of Public Health, a sets out how people across Europe currently benefit from the close collaboration between the UK and EU on public health, and proposes solutions to maintain and improve a high level of public health protection after the UK leaves the European Union.

The Alliance is calling for:

  • Both the EU Commission and UK government to prioritise the public’s health in negotiations on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.
  • A security partnership based on strong coordination between the UK and EU in dealing with serious cross-border health threats, such as pandemics, infectious diseases, safety of medicines (pharmacovigilance) and contamination of the food chain. Ideally, this would be by continuing access to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control and other relevant EU agencies, systems and databases.
  • Alignment with current and future EU regulatory and health and safety standards relating to (for example) food, medicines, transplant organs and the environment, to avoid the need for replication of inspections and non-tariff barriers at the UK/EU border.
  • The UK government to commit to a high level of human health protection when negotiating future free trade and investment agreements.

Full briefing: Protecting the public’s health across Europe after Brexit

Healthier weight promotion

A set of training tools providing evidence-based healthy weight messages for health and social care professionals to give to children, young people and families | Public Health England

The resources consist of:

The target audience for these resources is health and care professionals but they will be accessible to the wider public health workforce. This suite of resources is part of Public Health England’s All Our Health ‘call to action’ for health and care professionals.


That Age Old Question

Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation & Royal Society for Public Health, Vision, Voice & Practice | June 2018 | That Age Old Question: How attitudes to ageing affect our health and wellbeing

That Age Old Question examines prejudicial attitudes towards older people, old age and the ageing process. The findings reveal that ageist views are held across generations, and that an ageing society is viewed by many as a challenge rather than an opportunity. Tackling this issue will require a multifaceted approach and that’s why we have made a number of recommendations for tackling ageism aimed at a range of stakeholders, including national and local government, employers, the media, and the voluntary and community sectors.

Age Old Question
Image source:

Some of the key points include
Ageism harms the public’s health
• Negative attitudes about age can begin to form among children as young as six years old.
• These attitudes can be generated and reinforced in a number of ways, including:
– negatively framed headlines in the media;
– pressure from the beauty industry to use “anti-ageing” products;
– lack of regular contact between older and younger generations;
– age-based prejudice in the workplace.

Source: Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation & RSPH

Behind the Headlines: the battle to get care at home

Age UK | May 2018 | The size of the social care problem: three million hours of care lost in three years

The latest report from Age UK- Behind the Headlines: the battle to get care at home- outlines how since 2015  three million hours of home care services have been lost due to Central Government cuts. 

This new publication includes real-life stories illustrating the consequences of councils struggling to meet the growing need for home care.


They have identified several recurring issues including:

  •  Long waits to get an assessment
  • Services that are disjointed or simply unresponsive
  • Social services refusing to get involved
  • Fundamental lack of capacity in the system
  •  Poor quality services and support
  •  Support and services being cut back
  • Help for families providing care being withdrawn

(Source: Age UK)

The full publication is available from Age UK The size of the social care problem: three million hours of care lost in three years

Further information from Age UK