Health matters: obesity and the food environment

This resource outlines how councils and partners can help small food outlets and schools offer healthier food to reduce obesity levels | Public Health England

Nearly two-thirds of adults (63%) in England were classed as being overweight or obese in 2015.  In England, the proportion who were categorised as obese increased from 13.2% of men in 1993 to 26.9% in 2015 and from 16.4% of women in 1993 to 26.8% in 2015. The rate of increase has slowed down since 2001, although the trend is still upwards.

In 2015 to 2016, 19.8% of children aged 10 to 11 were obese and a further 14.3% were overweight. Of children aged 4 to 5, 9.3% were obese and another 12.8% were overweight. This means a third of 10 to 11 year olds and over a fifth of 4 to 5 year olds were overweight or obese.  In summary, nearly a third of children aged 2 to 15 are overweight or obese and younger generations are becoming obese at earlier ages and staying obese for longer.

Health matters: obesity and the food environment covers the following:

Scale of the obesity problem

Factors behind the rise in obesity levels

Improving everyone’s access to healthier food choices

How local authorities can help businesses offer healthier food and drink

National policies to tackle obesity

Call to action

5 Local food

Image source: http://www.gov.uk

Encouraging healthier ‘out of home’ food provision

This toolkit helps local authorities and businesses to provide and promote healthier options for food eaten away from home. | Public Health England

7 ways to encourage

Image source: http://www.gov.uk

The PHE toolkit, ‘Strategies for encouraging healthier “out of home” food provision’ has been developed to encourage local intervention that will further increase the opportunities for communities to access healthier food whilst out and about in their local community. It outlines opportunities both to manage new business applications and to work with existing food outlets to provide healthier food.

The toolkit has been created to help local authorities across England work with smaller food outlets such as:

  • takeaways
  • restaurants
  • bakers
  • sandwich and coffee shops
  • mobile traders
  • market stalls
  • corner shops
  • leisure centres
  • children’s centres and private nurseries

Full document:
Strategies for Encouraging Healthier ‘Out of Home’ Food Provision A toolkit for local councils working with small food businesses

Skin-to-skin contact improves breastfeeding of healthy babies

Early skin-to-skin contact improves breastfeeding of healthy full-term babies. | National Institute for Health Research

Skin-to-skin contact is the direct contact between a naked baby and the mother’s bare chest. It can occur before or after the baby is cleaned following birth.

This review found that about a quarter more women who have this contact with their babies are still breastfeeding at one to four months after birth compared with those who don’t. The evidence that skin-to-skin contact may also help to stabilise the baby’s heart and breathing rates and blood sugar levels after birth was based on fewer trials and less strong.

These findings support UK good practice to promote immediate skin-to-skin contact after birth to improve breastfeeding rates. It remains one of the important steps recommended by NICE and UNICEF aimed at improving the low rates of breastfeeding in the UK. Other measures include providing a favourable environment, support and education.

Full reference: Moore ER, Bergman N, Anderson GC, Medley N. Early skin-to-skin contact for mothers and their healthy newborn infants. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016;11:CD003519.

Every £1 spent on public health in UK saves average of £14

Every £1.00 spent on public health returns an extra £14 on the original investment, according to a systematic review published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. | via OnMedica

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Researchers identified 52 suitable studies published over four decades that had calculated a return on investment (ROI) for local and national public health initiatives and/or had worked out the overall value for money of a project or proposal—otherwise known as the cost-benefit ratio, (CBR).

Analysis of the data from these studies showed that the average ROI for a public health initiative was 14.3 for every unit cost spent on it, while the average CBR was 8.3.

When the overall impact of all 29 interventions was assessed, the ROI on local initiatives was 4.1, meaning that every £1 spent returns £4 plus the original £1 investment, while the average CBR was 10.3.  Even larger benefits accrued for national policies. Analysis of the data from these showed that the average ROI was 27.2 while the average CBR was 17.2.

The authors of the research warn that recent cuts made to public health budgets in the UK are therefore a “false economy” and are set to cost an already overstretched NHS and the wider economy “billions”.  They calculate that the recent £200 million cuts to public health funding in the UK will cost more like eight times as much – £1.6 billion.

Full reference: Masters R, Anwar E, Collins B, et al Return on investment of public health interventions: a systematic review Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, published online first: 29 March 2017

 

Important opportunities to tackle childhood obesity being missed

The Government needs to take more robust action to tackle the impact of deep discounting and price promotions on the sales of unhealthy food and drink, says the Health Committee in its follow up report into childhood obesity.

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The House of Commons Health Committee has published Childhood obesity: follow-up.

This report urges the Government to take more robust action to tackle the impact of deep discounting and price promotions on the sales of unhealthy food and drink. Although the Health Committee welcomes the measures the Government has announced on the sugary drinks levy, they are extremely disappointed that several key areas for action that could have made the strategy more effective have not been included.

Additional link: BBC News report

Mental health and nutrition

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This briefing focuses on how nutrition can be effectively integrated into public health strategies to protect and improve mental health and emotional wellbeing. It discusses what we know about the relationship between nutrition and mental health, the risk and positive factors within our diets and proposes an agenda for action.

Food for thought: Mental health and nutrition briefing  is available to download at the Mental Health Foundation

 

New resource to reduce barriers to breastfeeding

Public Health England (PHE) and NHS England have conducted a survey which found that of the three-quarters of the new mums who start breastfeeding, only 40% were still breastfeeding two months later.

To help dispel some of the concerns women have about breastfeeding, PHE’s Start4 life programme has launched a new interactive Breastfeeding Friend (BFF) ChatBot. The BFF can be accessed through Facebook messenger and provides personal support for mothers at any time of the day or night. The ChatBot works as a live chat tool which is able to respond to questions about breastfeeding posed by the user.

Read more on this at Public Health England