Brisk walking better for health than counting number of steps

Public Health England | June 2018 | Focus on brisk walking, not just 10,000 steps, say health experts

Public Health England (PHE) and the Royal College of GPs are encouraging adults to focus on brisk walking rather than counting the number of steps to improve their health. 


As part of the push to get adults doing more moderate intensity physical activity each day, health experts are encouraging people to increase the intensity of their walking, rather than just focus on the distance or number of steps.

Moderate intensity physical activity means getting the heart rate up and breathing faster. Just 10 minutes of brisk walking a day is an easy way for adults to introduce more moderate intensity physical activity into their day and reduce their risk of early death by up to 15%. To help adults do this, PHE’s ‘Active 10’ app has been created and it is the only app of its kind that combines intensity and time, rather than just distance

A new survey by PHE looking at people’s perceptions of physical activity found that:

  • many adults struggle to fit in exercise. Not having enough time (31%) was the main reason cited, followed by not feeling motivated (27%) and being too tired (25%)
  • half of these adults (50%) think more than 240 minutes of exercise per week is required to see general health benefits, nearly double the recommended guidance of at least 150 minutes – and 1 in 7 (15%) think that more than 420 minutes per week is required (an hour per day)
  • nearly nine in 10 (87%) say they walk more than 10 minutes per day, however, this drops to just over half (54%) who say they walk briskly for this amount of time

The current physical inactivity crisis also has a societal impact. In adults, physical inactivity contributes to 1 in 6 deaths in the UK and costs the NHS over £0.5 billion per year (Source: Public Health England).

Further details about the new app from Public Health England is available here 


Changes to diet and exercise could avoid 26,000 cases of cancer a year in women

Around 500 cases of cancer in women every week in the UK could be prevented by keeping a healthy weight and increasing exercise | British Journal of Cancer | story via Cancer Research UK


The latest figures, calculated from 2015 cancer data, found that whilst smoking remains the biggest preventable cause of cancer, everyday changes to live a little more healthily can have a large impact.

By keeping a healthy weight, drinking less alcohol, eating more fibre, cutting down on processed meat and being more active, more than 26,000 cancer cases in women could be avoided each year.

This equates to 15% of all cancers diagnosed in women each year in the UK. More than 24,000 cases of cancer in men could also be avoided with the same approach.

Full story at Cancer Research UK

Full reference: Brown, K. et al. | The fraction of cancer attributable to known risk factors in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the UK overall in 2015 | British Journal of Cancer 2018 | Vol. 118 p1130–1141

Developing pathways for alcohol treatment

Guidance on referring alcohol dependent patients from hospital to specialist alcohol treatment in the hospital or in the community | Public Health England


This guidance is about developing pathways for referral and care and for patients whose routine alcohol screening in secondary care suggests that they may be alcohol dependent.

It can be used by people implementing the Preventing ill health by risky behaviours – alcohol and tobacco CQUIN in acute, mental health and community trusts. It can also be used by NHS commissioners and planners and those planning, commissioning and providing community alcohol treatment.

The guidance aims to:

  • show the components of treatment for dependent drinking
  • describe what helps patients’ smooth passage through their treatment for alcohol dependence

Full guidance: Developing pathways for referring patients from secondary care to specialist alcohol treatment

What works in homelessness services

Social Care Institute for Excellence | May 2018 | A rapid evidence assessment of what works in homelessness services

Crisis commissioned the Social Care Institute for Excellence to produce a rapid evidence assessment (RAE) to understand what services work, to address and end homelessness, and to assess the quality of evidence that exists in published studies.

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The report shows that there is potentially a wealth of evidence about what works in services to end homelessness, but the evidence base is as varied in terms of quality as it is vast in scope. The gaps in type of evidence on homelessness include experimental research including Randomised Control Trials, measurement of fidelity of services, long term outcomes and cost benefit analysis. The challenge is to coordinate and develop a more coherent approach to generating reliable evidence about what works in preventing homelessness and making that evidence more accessible to those who need it (Source: Crisis).


You can read the full press release at Crisis 

The full report is available to download here 



Heatwave Plan for England

The Heatwave Plan for England is intended to protect the population from heat-related harm to health | Public Health England


This guidance from Public Health England has recently been updated. The Heatwave Plan for England aims to prepare for, alert people to, and prevent, the major avoidable effects on health during periods of severe heat in England.

It recommends a series of steps to reduce the risks to health from prolonged exposure to severe heat for:

  • the NHS, local authorities, social care, and other public agencies
  • professionals working with people at risk
  • individuals, local communities and voluntary groups

The Plan includes ‘Beat the Heat: Keeping care home residents safe and well’, a guide for care home staff.

Full document: Heatwave plan for England

Childhood obesity: Time for action

Childhood obesity: time for action |   Health and Social Care Select Committee


It was estimated that the NHS in England spent £6.1 billion on overweight and obesity  related ill-health in 2017/18. To put this in context, this is more than the Government  spent on the police, fire service and judicial system combined.

Childhood obesity is also a leading cause of health inequality. The burden is falling
disproportionately on children from low-income backgrounds. Obesity rates are highest for children from the most deprived areas and the inequality gap has widened every year since formal recording began as part of the child measurement programme.

The Government is expected to publish shortly a refreshed version of the childhood obesity plan. This report from the Health and Social Care Select Committee outlines the key areas which demand attention as a matter of urgency by the Government before the next chapter of the plan is finalised.

The key areas include: A whole systems approach

  • Marketing and advertising
  • Price promotions
  • Early years and schools
  • Takeaways
  • Fiscal measures
  • Labelling
  • Services for children living with obesity

Full report: Childhood obesity: time for action

See also: Childhood obesity is everyone’s business

Preventing Type 2 diabetes

Guidance on how to optimise the NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme in order to identify those at risk of Type 2 diabetes and help lower their risk of developing the disease | Public Health England

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Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP)

The NHS DPP is a joint commitment from Public Health England, NHS England and Diabetes UK. The Programme, launched in 2015, delivers evidence based behavioural interventions at scale for individuals identified as being at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

The NHS DPP is underpinned by a strong evidence base. PHE has published a systematic review and meta-analysis examining the effectiveness of diabetes prevention programmes.

The goals of the NHS DPP are to:

  • reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes
  • reduce the incidence of complications associated with Type 2 diabetes – heart, stroke, kidney, eye and foot problems related to diabetes
  • reduce health inequalities associated with incidence of Type 2 diabetes, over the longer term

In the short-term, the Programme recognises that a stronger focus on identifying people who are at risk of diabetes is likely to increase recorded incidence of diabetes as more undiagnosed cases are uncovered. This is important to recognise as it is possible to live for some time with undiagnosed Type 2 diabetes; in 2015, an estimated 900,000 people had Type 2 diabetes but were undiagnosed.

There is strong international evidence that demonstrates how behavioural interventions, with a focus on supporting people to maintain a healthy weight and be more active, can significantly reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The NHS DPP behavioural intervention reflects this evidence, as it is underpinned by 3 core goals:

  • achieving a healthy weight
  • achievement of dietary recommendations
  • achievement of the Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) physical activity recommendations
Dr Jonathan Valabhji outlines the aims of NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme

Full detail: Health matters: preventing Type 2 Diabetes