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. 

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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 

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Every 10 minutes a child in England has a tooth removed due to decay 

Public Health England  | April 2018  | Every 10 minutes a child in England has a rotten tooth removed

New data published by Public Health England (PHE) today, 6 April 2018 highlights the prevalence of tooth decay among children. It has been released to coincide with the government’s launch of the Soft Drinks Industry Levy, which comes into force today.  141 children a day are having a tooth removed in hospital,  in children aged between 5 to 9 tooth extraction  is the leading reason for their admission to hospital.
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As consuming too much sugar is one of the leading causes of tooth decay and childhood obesity PHE is reminding parents that  sugary drinks, including juice drinks, energy drinks, cola and other fizzy drinks, are one of the main sources of sugar in children’s diets.

PHE’s Change4Life campaign is encouraging parents to:

  1. Swap sugary drinks for lower or no sugar alternatives, including water and lower fat milks. The Change4Life website has plenty of easy drink swaps and helpful tips for families.
  2. Limit fruit juice and smoothies to a total of 150ml per day and only consume with meals – they count as a maximum of one portion of our 5 A Day.
  3. Ensure children brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste (once before bedtime and once during the day) and remind them to ‘spit not rinse’, as rinsing washes away the protective fluoride. Brushing should start as soon as the first tooth appears and children should be supervised up to the age of 7. (PHE)

Further details of the news story are available from PHE 

Related: The Change4Life website  has helpful swaps and tips it can be accessed here

A new app  details the amount of sugar, fat, salt and calories in popular foods and drinks. It is available for iOS and Android devices.

Productive healthy ageing

This resource for health professionals and local authorities makes the case for action in midlife to support healthy productive later life | Public Health England

Longer, healthier lives are a benefit to society in many ways, including financial, social and cultural, because older people have skills, knowledge and experience that benefit the wider population. There is an opportunity to utilise this increased longevity as a resource, whilst challenging ageism and the view that retirement is about ‘sitting more and moving less’.

As life expectancy rises, we must promote the concept of productive healthy ageing, which involves:

  • improved health and wellbeing
  • increased independence and resilience to adversity
  • the ability to be financially secure through work and build resources
  • engagement in social activities
  • being socially connected with enhanced friendships and support
  • enjoying life in good health

Longer, healthier lives can be a benefit to society, but this requires over-65s to be more active community and economic participants.

Full detail at Public Health England

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

Reducing sugar in manufactured foods

The World Health Association has published Incentives and disincentives for reducing sugar in manufactured foods: an exploratory supply chain analysis. 

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This report investigates why producers use sugar in foods and why they use it in large amounts.  The report, prepared together with the Centre for Food Policy at City, University of London, reveals that producers and retailers of food with high sugar content currently have many more incentives to continue using sugar than to limit its use or substitute it completely.

These incentives include:

  • the perception that sugar is the gold standard for sweetness;
  • sugar’s availability as a relatively cheap and abundant ingredient from multiple sources;
  • manufacturers’ and retailers’ focus on maintaining competitiveness;
  • manufacturers’ and retailers’ desire to maintain “choice” for consumers who still want to buy sugary foods;
  • sugar’s provision of essential functional qualities for manufactured foods; and
  • consumer concern about the use of artificial sweeteners.

The report concludes that a comprehensive approach covering the whole food system is needed in order to reduce sugar intake.

Full report: Incentives and disincentives for reducing sugar in manufactured foods: an exploratory supply chain analysis (2017)

Healthy people, healthy planet

Healthy people, healthy planet: The role of health systems in promoting healthier lifestyles and a greener future | Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development 

This report was produced to inform the 2017 meeting of the G7 ministers of health. It provides a broad overview of the main policy actions that G7 countries can take to improve population health and to decrease the human footprint on the environment.

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Image source: http://www.oecd.org

The report makes the following policy recommendations:

  • Support the development and implementation of nutritional guidelines promoting healthier food consumption – as this can lead to less stress on the environmental resources used in food production – as well as reduce the environmental footprint in hospitals and in nursing homes by encouraging healthier food consumption, waste reduction and cleaner energy generation;
  • Create partnerships with various national and local stakeholders, including local city authorities and ministries of industry, environment, transport, and agriculture, in order to incorporate health and environmental considerations into urban planning schemes;
  • Implement public health actions encouraging more physical activity and greater reliance on active modes of transportation, such as through physical activity-promoting mass media campaigns, bike sharing schemes and creating low-emission zones.

Full report: Healthy people, healthy planet

Trends in child BMI

This report uses National Child Measurement Programme  data to examine the changes in children’s body mass index (BMI) between 2006 to 2007 and 2015 to 2016

The report explores trends in obesity, overweight, excess weight and underweight prevalence, as well as changes in mean BMI over time. It is aimed at local authorities and other organisations who want to examine detailed trends in child weight category prevalence over time, and how these vary by health inequality.

Trends within different socioeconomic and ethnic groups are examined to determine whether existing health inequalities are widening or becoming smaller.

The report is accompanied by a summary of main findings and a supplementary dataset.

National Child Measurement Programme: changes in children’s body mass index between 2006 to 2007 and 2015 to 2016:

See also: National child measurement programme

What makes us healthy?

The Health Foundation has published What makes us healthy?

This infographic is part of a new series of infographics and accompanying blogs and commentaries to describe and explain the social determinants of health in an accessible and engaging way. This infographic shows the extent to which health is primarily shaped by factors outside the direct influence of healthcare and invites people to look at this bigger picture.

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Image source: http://www.health.org.uk