What action is needed
1. We each need to take action.
What we eat and drink, whether or not we smoke and how much physical and mental exercise we engage in could make a big difference for own health. And how we act as parents can affect the long term mental and physical health of our childen.
What we do also has big implications for those we love - for instance if we want to reduce the risk of needing their long term care due to chronic ill health.
2. Food and Drink Companies need to take action.
We know that food high in sugar, salt, trans fats and refined carbohydrates is bad for our health. As are sugary drinks.
That’s why many people now think the food industry is more important for health than the government and doctors (according to a survey by consumer experts dunnhumby).
Many companies had committed to the government’s voluntary Responsibility Deal for Food and there has been some progress on reducing levels of salt and trans fat in the food they produce.
However, we now need to see progress on reducing sugar and increasing fibre, to see this across the board and to be able to independently verify this - with the government's 2016 and 2018 Childhood Obesity Plans a step along the way but with more action still needed.
3. Government needs to take action
Child health is particularly important. That’s because research shows that what happens to us in the first thousand days of our life (from conception onwards) can have a big impact on our long term health prospects.
So government action to help parents help their children make the best start in life is likely to prove particularly effective.
We also know that social inequality leads to health inequality. On average people in less affluent areas die younger and enjoy fewer years of good health. So action by the government to reduce these inequalities is likely to be good for public health.
4. Employers need to take action.
Millions of employees spend long hours sat at work stations, check outs and in meetings. That’s bad for health too.
Yet there are solutions. For example 80% of Scandinavian office workers now have sit stand desks – compared to only around 2% of their counterparts in the UK. And there are many low cost ways employers can encourage more physical activity at work.
This should be a win win for employers – as fitter staff are likely to be more productive and to take less sick leave.
5. Health Professionals need to take action
When people are ill they need diagnosis and treatment. That’s really important. But so too is what health professionals can do to help people stay healthy and so reduce the number of people needing treatment.
The health professions have many years of experience to draw on and the expertise and commitment of their members. We hope they will take a lead in responding to the call from the Chief Executive of the NHS for a radical upgrade in prevention and public health.
This includes acting as role models. For example if a clearly overweight doctor or nurse is advising you how to lead a healthy life, how seriously are you likely to take their advice?
And the NHS itself needs to act as a role model. For instance how healthy is the food hospitals provide to patients and staff and what kind of food and drink is available in hospital vending machines?
If you would like to help us achieve progress towards a healthier UK, or find out more about our work, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org