North-South health divide bigger than ever

Dying early (under age 75) is 20% more likely in northern compared with southern England according to research led by The University of Manchester

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The study uncovers a North-South divide in deaths among middle aged adults, which has been rising since the mid-90s and is now at alarming levels:

  • 49% more deaths among 35-44 year olds in the North in 2015
  • 29% more deaths among 25-34 year olds in the North in 2015

The team shows that a sharp increase in premature deaths among middle aged adults in the North first emerged in the mid-90s, increasingly quickly but consistently until the end of the study period in 2015.

Public health interventions may offer society a return on investment of £14 for each £1 spent

Each £1 invested in public health interventions could offer an average return on investment to the wider health and social care economy of £14 | NIHR Signal

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This systematic review looked at 52 studies where the return on each £1 ranged from -£21.3 to £221. Legislative interventions such as sugar taxes, and health protection interventions such as vaccination programmes, gave the highest returns on investment. Interventions such as anti-stigma campaigns, blood pressure monitoring and early education programmes, provided smaller (but still favourable) returns. National campaigns offered greater returns than local campaigns. Falls prevention provided the quickest return, within 18 months.

These findings apply to high-income countries. There are some limitations to the data, as a variety of calculation techniques were used and the quality of the included studies varied. However, these are unlikely to alter the direction or approximate size of these effects. The study shows how cost-effective public health interventions can be and should inspire future research into how to better implement what is already known.

 

Dementia in older age: barriers to primary prevention and factors

Evidence review showing that changing some behaviours in midlife can reduce the chances of getting dementia in older age | PHE

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These documents help commissioners and researchers make decisions about prioritisation of primary prevention measures relevant to dementia.

This review, by the Personal Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU) at the London School of Economics and Political Science (2016), shows that there is evidence that the risk of dementia is increased by:

  • physical inactivity
  • current smoking
  • diabetes
  • hypertension in mid-life
  • obesity in mid-life and depression

It also shows that mental activity can reduce the risk of dementia.

To promote primary prevention of dementia, it is important to understand both the barriers to primary prevention and factors which facilitate primary prevention.

Read the full overview here

Reducing health inequalities: Marmot indicators 2017

This briefing provides an update on progress since the 2008 Marmot Review into the most effective evidence-based strategies for reducing health inequalities in England. | The Institute of Health Equity 

This update finds that improvements on life expectancy at birth and remaining life expectancy at 65 have slowed since 2010. The analysis also finds that inequalities within and between local authorities have persisted.

Full document: Marmot Indicators Briefing 2017 – updated

Additional links: BBC News report | AgeUK

Number of children getting enough physical activity drops by 40%

Change4Life together with Disney and Sport England launches ’10 minute shake up’ campaign to help get children more active.

The number of children meeting the recommended amount of physical activity for healthy development and to maintain a healthy weight, 60 minutes a day, drops by 40% as they move through primary school.

A new survey from Public Health England (PHE) and Disney looked at the effects of physical activity on children’s emotional wellbeing, and found:

  • being active made the majority of 5 to 11 year olds feel happier (79%), more confident (72%), and more sociable (74%), according to their parents
  • nearly all children said they liked being active (93%)
  • the main motivations for kids to be more active was having friends to join in (53%) and having more activities they liked to choose from (48%)
  • children’s overall happiness declines with age; 64% of 5 and 6 year olds said they always feel happy, compared to just 48% of 11 year olds
  • 19% of children said they were less active due to a lack of sports or activities they enjoyed

More information:

Big cuts planned to public health budgets

Plans to cut public health budgets by £85m this year ‘self-defeating’ | story via Kings Fund

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Public health services such as sexual health clinics and services reducing harm from smoking, alcohol and drugs are to be cut by £85m this year by local authorities, despite having their budgets severely reduced in recent times, new research has found.

In findings released by the King’s Fund which analysed Department of Communities and Local Government data, it was revealed that councils in England were planning to spend £3.4bn on public health services in 2017-18.

However, on a like-for-like basis excluding the impact of changes to how budgets are calculated over different years, councils will only spend £2.52bn on public health in 2017-18 compared to £2.60bn last year.

Once inflation is factored in, the King’s Fund experts also discovered that public health spending is more than 5% less in 2017-18 than it was four years ago, in 2013-14.

Full story at The Kings Fund

Related: Kings Fund blog: Chickens coming home to roost: local government public health budgets for 2017/18

 

Weight management services – why are they important?

Obesity is caused by a complex set of personal, social and environmental factors. It can come with a number of associated health consequences, all of which can have a huge impact on the individual, as well as the people around them | Public Health Matters Blog

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But what impact does obesity have on our local population as a whole, and what part can local services play in addressing this issue?

PHE’s ‘Guide to Delivering and Commissioning Tier 2 Adult Weight Management Services’ supports local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and providers to develop and deliver weight management services that can help individuals achieve a healthier weight, while potentially contributing towards healthier communities.

Our guide, co-badged by NICE, LGA, ADPH and RCP, helps make the case for evidence-based services that are effective and accessible for users.

Some healthcare professionals are not comfortable discussing weight with patients, while others may doubt the efficacy of such services, meaning some patients might be missing out.

Our guide will help professionals engage with people across the obesity pathway, to ensure those referring into the service and those eligible to access services get all the support and information they need.

Read the full blog post here