Physical activity in relation to urban environments

Prof Sallis, J. et al. The Lancet, vol 387, No 10034, 2207-2217 28 May 2016

The following research has been published in the Lancet ‘Physical activity in relation to urban environments in 14 cities worldwide: a cross-sectional study’.

Evidence is growing that the design of urban environments has a role in the pandemic of physical inactivity, which is contributing to several non-communicable diseases. Numerous reviews have reported evidence that adults tend to be more physically active when they live in higher density, mixed-use neighbourhoods with destinations such as shops and parks within walking distance. Improvements in the evidence about built environments and physical activity are important because environments are constantly changing in ways that could have positive or negative effects on whole populations over many years.

Fit for the Future
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Design of urban environments has the potential to contribute nearly 90 min/week of physical activity, which is 60% of the 150 min/week recommended in physical activity guidelines. These potentially large effects of built environments were reported to apply similarly across ten diverse countries, indicating that urban design should be a globally relevant public health priority. Building, retrofitting, and maintenance of physical activity supportive features in cities worldwide to increase residential density, provide good transport service, and ensure access to parks would be expected to substantially increase physical activity in the population on a permanent basis and contribute to meeting the UN’s goals to reduce non-communicable diseases.

Read more here


Psychological Abuse, Mental Health, and Acceptance of Dating Violence Among Adolescents

Temple, J. R. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online: 27 May 2016

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Purpose: Existing literature indicates that acceptance of dating violence is a significant and robust risk factor for psychological dating abuse perpetration. Past work also indicates a significant relationship between psychological dating abuse perpetration and poor mental health. However, no known research has examined the relationship between acceptance of dating violence, perpetration of dating abuse, and mental health. In addition to exploring this complex relationship, the present study examines whether psychological abuse perpetration mediates the relationship between acceptance of dating violence and mental health (i.e., internalizing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and hostility).

Methods: Three waves of longitudinal data were obtained from 1,042 ethnically diverse high school students in Texas. Participants completed assessments of psychological dating abuse perpetration, acceptance of dating violence, and internalizing symptoms (hostility and symptoms of anxiety and depression).

Results: As predicted, results indicated that perpetration of psychological abuse was significantly associated with acceptance of dating violence and all internalizing symptoms. Furthermore, psychological abuse mediated the relationship between acceptance of dating violence and internalizing symptoms.

Conclusions: Findings from the present study suggest that acceptance of dating violence is an important target for the prevention of dating violence and related emotional distress.

Read the abstract here

National Obesity Forum faces backlash over ‘dangerous’ diet advice

Campbell, D. The Observer. Published online: 28 May 2016
Image source: Agromonitor Agricultura // CC BY-SA 2.0

Members of campaign group to disown controversial guidelines to eat fats and cut down on carbohydrates

Britain’s leading anti-obesity campaign group is in turmoil after its controversial new dietary advice provoked serious infighting and threats by leading doctors to shun it over its “misleading” views.

Privately, the National Obesity Forum (NOF) is in disarray over recommendations last week that people should eat more fat, reduce carbohydrates and stop counting calories.

The influential group is facing a growing backlash from a range of eminent experts on food and obesity, who fear its new guidelines will deepen public confusion over what to eat, set back the fight against expanding waistlines, and even be dangerous to those with type 2 diabetes.

Internal NOF emails seen by the Observer reveal anger among board members that none of them was given the chance to approve the incendiary report before publication, except its chair, Dr David Haslam, who co-wrote it with Dr Aseem Malhotra, an outspoken heart doctor who is the NOF’s cardiological adviser, and others, including Robert Lustig, an American expert on sugar. Haslam, a GP, told them on 12 May that he would seek their advice before publishing but did not do so, it is claimed. The group plans to issue a statement this week disowning the findings, which will leave Haslam facing serious questions.

The NOF’s new advice challenged established thinking by advising that eating fatty foods such as meat, and dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt, while avoiding low-fat products, would benefit health.

Read the full news story here

Statistics on Smoking, England – 2016

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This statistical report presents a range of information on smoking which is drawn together from a variety of sources. The report aims to present a broad picture of health issues relating to smoking in England and covers topics such as smoking prevalence, habits, behaviours and attitudes among adults and school children, smoking-related ill health and mortality and smoking-related costs.

The topics covered include:

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Part 1: Smoking patterns in adults

Part 2: Smoking patterns in children

Part 3: Availability and affordability of tobacco

Part 4: Behaviour and attitudes to smoking

Part 5: Smoking-related costs, ill health and mortality

Each part provides an overview of the key findings on these topics, as well as providing links to sources of further information and relevant documents.

Evidence-informed public health

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The National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools has developed a resource to support evidence-informed public health. It includes a compendium of critical appraisal tools, and an online learning module called Introduction to Evidence-Informed Decision Making. Find out more here

Factsheet: A model for about evidence-informed decision making in Public Health

Suicide by children and young people in England

Bereavement, bullying, exams and physical health conditions such as acne and asthma are some of the experiences linked to suicide in children and young people according to a new report by The University of Manchester’s National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness (NCISH).

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Researchers studied the reports from a range of investigations and inquiries on 130 people under the age of 20 in England who died by suicide between January 2014 and April 2015, extracting information about their personal circumstances that the reports highlighted. This is the first time there has been a national study of suicide in children and young people in England on this scale.

The researchers found that 28% of the young people who died had been bereaved, in 13% there had been a suicide by a family member or friend. 36% had a physical health condition such as acne or asthma, and 29% were facing exams or exam results when they died. Four died on the day of an exam, or the day after.

The full report is available to download here

An infographic summary of the report can be downloaded here

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The EU Referendum and UK Poverty

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation has published a briefing paper ‘The EU Referendum and UK Poverty’.

EU Referendum and poverty
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This evidence-based briefing looks at how the outcome of the EU referendum on June 23 could affect people in poverty and pulls together existing evidence on work, housing, the economy and welfare. Key points include:

  • Leaving the EU could save the UK its net contribution of £9.9 billion which could be spent on poverty reduction.
  • A devaluation of the pound following a leave vote could increase the cost of imported goods and services which would impact people who already live in poverty.
  • The North East, Northern Ireland and the East Midlands would be hardest hit by any increased barriers to trade with the EU.
  • Some of the most deprived parts of the UK such as Wales and Cornwall receive £2.1 billion of funding from the EU to support development.

This briefing provides a guide on the issues being debated. Whether the UK votes to stay or to go, it’s vital that people and places in poverty are not left behind.

Read more here