Health and Fitness

Duncan Selbie’s Friday message – 15 June 2018

Dear everyone

By this point in the year, on average children in England have already exceeded their maximum recommended intake of sugar. This means that by the end of the year, they will have consumed more than double the amount and while this is graphic, it should not come as a shock. We are seeing a third of children leave primary school overweight or obese and a quarter of five year olds are suffering from tooth decay. Children of families living in the most deprived areas are twice as likely to be overweight as those as those in the most affluent ones. Government has announced a second chapter of the 2016 childhood obesity plan to help address this. Change4Life also provides helpful advice for parents and schools, including how to make some easy swaps to cut back on sugar. You can find out more here.  ​

In society and within workplaces, if we can get it right for people with learning disabilities, we can get it right for everyone. Next week is Learning Disability Week and the focus is all about health, in line with Mencap’s Treat Me Well campaign. The message behind this is that simple changes such as better communication, more time and clearer information in hospital care can make a big difference and this translates to the workplace. To coincide, the PHE learning disabilities team are hosting a webinar about the early deaths of people with learning disabilities using learnings from the Bristol University Learning Disabilities Mortality Review annual report, which supports local areas to review deaths. To receive the invitation to join please email

Having a decent job boosts our wellbeing and quality of life as well as contributing to the economy. The longer a person is out of work, the more likely this is to impact on their health and their family and combined costs from worklessness and sickness absence amount to over 100 billion annually, which certainly makes the case for greater action. PHE has produced infographics on work, worklessness and health for every county and unitary authority in England following the national infographics first published in 2016, which led to requests for more localised data. You can learn more in our blog and access the new infographics here.

This week, in partnership with the Local Government Association, we have updated the Spend and Outcome Tool (SPOT). This allows local authorities to see how much is being spent on different interventions and the impact on relevant outcomes. It allows comparisons to be drawn across public health programmes and with other local authorities, identifying any significant variation that warrants further investigation. In our joint blog with the LGA we explain how this can be best used alongside our return on investment tools and the Public Health Outcomes Framework. A video introduction to the use of SPOT is available on the SPOT website.

On Tuesday evening our North of England and Diversity and Inclusion teams attended the NHS England Windrush awards in Manchester. This inspiring evening was a celebration of the contribution black and mixed ethnic communities make to the NHS. PHE were proud to present an award on health inequalities to retired nurse Beatrice Akyeampong and sexual health consultant Dr Vanessa Apea, a mother and daughter team who have set a high bar for others to follow. As the NHS turns 70 this year celebrations like these are the perfect way of showing how diverse and dynamic the people who keep the cogs turning truly are.

And finally, we have prepared a three minute movie about our forthcoming move to Harlow in Essex. This is a major six hundred million pound investment by the UK Government in public health science and our specialists and expertise. You can watch it here.

Best wishes




Friday messages from 2012-2017 are available on GOV.UK.

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