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FITNESS, HEALTH, WELLNESS

features

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Fuel the debate about issues and opportunities across the industry. We’d love to hear from you – [email protected]

Published in Health Club Management 2023 issue 9
We need a focus on prevention to reverse stalling life expectancy trends / Photo: Shutterstock / Sabrina Bracher
We need a focus on prevention to reverse stalling life expectancy trends / Photo: Shutterstock / Sabrina Bracher
The nation’s health is central to society’s strength and growth. We should be demanding more from government

There was a moment in 2021, at the point the UK’s Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) was being launched, when focus was finally given to improving the nation’s health and reducing inequalities.

The then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said: “By focusing on preventing and not just treating poor health, [OHID] will tackle health disparities to break the link between people’s background and their prospects for a healthy life.”


This was to be the moment the building blocks for good health would finally be considered across the whole of government; OHID would coordinate activity across Whitehall “to address the wider drivers of good health, from employment to housing, education and the environment”.

Ambitions have been diluted
Fast forward two years and this ambition is barely recognisable. A commitment to produce a standalone, cross-government health disparities white paper has been diluted beyond recognition. The agenda is now a minor feature in the major conditions strategy (www.hcmmag.com/majorconditions), a document rooted firmly in the Department of Health and Social Care and more specifically the NHS.

While the document lists primary prevention – tackling the root causes of ill health – as a priority, there are no substantive commitments likely to reverse stalling life expectancy trends or the gap that exists between different areas.

There’s only one new policy announcement in the prevention space and this is government consulting on adding pack inserts to tobacco products to encourage smokers to quit. This new policy is not enough to address the impact of risk factors such as obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption on people’s health.

The report is anchored in the role of clinical services and places too much focus on individual behaviour change and personalised prevention. This ignores broader evidence on the state’s crucial role in taking population-level action on risk factors and the wider determinants.

Lack of ambition
This lack of ambition should be a concern for us all. The nation’s health is central to society’s strength and growth.

Having commented on previous moments when the ambition was watered down, it has become increasingly difficult to find anything new to say or be surprised by the lack of ambition shown. Perhaps it’s unsurprising then that the external commentary around the strategy is quiet, reflecting a feeling that there is nothing to gain by making the same points – again – accepting that a government in its last year of a five-year term is unlikely to make bold, new moves.

But the point that communities are being left behind by a lack of ambition and leadership is one to continue making. There will be very little impact on life expectancy without a new approach that has strong political leadership at its core and manifestos for the next election will be the next realistic point for such a vision to be set out.

A lack of ambition should be a concern for us all. The nation’s health is central to society’s strength and growth. We should be demanding more from government.

photo: The Health Foundation

By Katherine Merrifield and Gwen Nightingale –  Job-share assistant directors, The Health Foundation Healthy Lives team

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
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Katherine Merrifield and Gwen Nightingale of The Health Foundation Healthy Lives team outline what we should be asking of the UK government.
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features

Letters: Write to reply

Fuel the debate about issues and opportunities across the industry. We’d love to hear from you – [email protected]

Published in Health Club Management 2023 issue 9
We need a focus on prevention to reverse stalling life expectancy trends / Photo: Shutterstock / Sabrina Bracher
We need a focus on prevention to reverse stalling life expectancy trends / Photo: Shutterstock / Sabrina Bracher
The nation’s health is central to society’s strength and growth. We should be demanding more from government

There was a moment in 2021, at the point the UK’s Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) was being launched, when focus was finally given to improving the nation’s health and reducing inequalities.

The then Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, said: “By focusing on preventing and not just treating poor health, [OHID] will tackle health disparities to break the link between people’s background and their prospects for a healthy life.”


This was to be the moment the building blocks for good health would finally be considered across the whole of government; OHID would coordinate activity across Whitehall “to address the wider drivers of good health, from employment to housing, education and the environment”.

Ambitions have been diluted
Fast forward two years and this ambition is barely recognisable. A commitment to produce a standalone, cross-government health disparities white paper has been diluted beyond recognition. The agenda is now a minor feature in the major conditions strategy (www.hcmmag.com/majorconditions), a document rooted firmly in the Department of Health and Social Care and more specifically the NHS.

While the document lists primary prevention – tackling the root causes of ill health – as a priority, there are no substantive commitments likely to reverse stalling life expectancy trends or the gap that exists between different areas.

There’s only one new policy announcement in the prevention space and this is government consulting on adding pack inserts to tobacco products to encourage smokers to quit. This new policy is not enough to address the impact of risk factors such as obesity, smoking and alcohol consumption on people’s health.

The report is anchored in the role of clinical services and places too much focus on individual behaviour change and personalised prevention. This ignores broader evidence on the state’s crucial role in taking population-level action on risk factors and the wider determinants.

Lack of ambition
This lack of ambition should be a concern for us all. The nation’s health is central to society’s strength and growth.

Having commented on previous moments when the ambition was watered down, it has become increasingly difficult to find anything new to say or be surprised by the lack of ambition shown. Perhaps it’s unsurprising then that the external commentary around the strategy is quiet, reflecting a feeling that there is nothing to gain by making the same points – again – accepting that a government in its last year of a five-year term is unlikely to make bold, new moves.

But the point that communities are being left behind by a lack of ambition and leadership is one to continue making. There will be very little impact on life expectancy without a new approach that has strong political leadership at its core and manifestos for the next election will be the next realistic point for such a vision to be set out.

A lack of ambition should be a concern for us all. The nation’s health is central to society’s strength and growth. We should be demanding more from government.

photo: The Health Foundation

By Katherine Merrifield and Gwen Nightingale –  Job-share assistant directors, The Health Foundation Healthy Lives team

Sign up here to get HCM's weekly ezine and every issue of HCM magazine free on digital.
https://www.leisureopportunities.co.uk/images/2023/916844_269403.jpg
Katherine Merrifield and Gwen Nightingale of The Health Foundation Healthy Lives team outline what we should be asking of the UK government.
Katherine Merrifield, Gwen Nightingale, The Health Foundation Healthy Lives team,Health inequalities, health improvement
Latest News
Having redefined the model of public-private collaboration in Spain, Go Fit is now expanding into ...
Latest News
Planet Fitness has become the subject of a hate campaign by certain groups of consumers ...
Latest News
Recovery, social wellness and longevity were talking points at PerformX recently, tipped by many speakers ...
Latest News
Industry experts are gathering in Cologne for today's European Health & Fitness Forum (EHFF), followed ...
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Jason Worthy has been appointed group CEO of Myzone to lead the 'next stage of ...
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John Kersh has announced he is leaving boutique franchisor, Xponential Fitness, after eight years with ...
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As one of the most energy-intensive industries in the UK, leisure facilities face a critical challenge in balancing net zero goals, funding and increased costs.
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Company profile: Matrix Fitness
Preferred by some of the world’s finest hotels and resorts, Matrix offers an array of ...
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Company profile: The Health and Fitness Institute
All fitness education providers currently out there are one and the same. They vary in ...
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Click on a catalogue to view it online
Featured press releases
FIBO press release: FIBO 2024: Billion-euro fitness market continues to grow
11 to 14 April saw the fitness industry impressively demonstrate just how innovative it is in fulfilling its responsibility for a healthy society at FIBO in Cologne. Over 1,000 exhibitors and partners generated boundless enthusiasm among 129,668 visitors from 114 countries.
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KeepMe press release: Keepme launches Open-House Sessions – providing pressure-free platform insights
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Total Vibration Solutions / TVS Sports Surfaces: Flooring
Snowroom
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Lockers
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Spa software
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salt therapy products
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Grantham, Leicestershire
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Large Hall of the Chamber of Commerce (Erbprinzenpalais), Wiesbaden, Germany
Diary dates
30 May - 02 Jun 2024
Rimini Exhibition Center, Rimini, Italy
Diary dates
08-08 Jun 2024
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Diary dates
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Diary dates
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ExCeL London, London, United Kingdom
Diary dates
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IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand
Diary dates
19-19 Sep 2024
The Salil Hotel Riverside - Bangkok, Bangkok 10120, Thailand
Diary dates
01-04 Oct 2024
REVĪVŌ Wellness Resort Nusa Dua Bali, Kabupaten Badung, Indonesia
Diary dates
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Messe Stuttgart, Germany
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Diary dates
04-07 Nov 2024
In person, St Andrews, United Kingdom
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