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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 9 March 2018

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Dear everyone

On Tuesday we began the next phase of the childhood obesity plan, with a call to the food industry to reduce overall calories in thirteen categories of food by 20% over the next five years. This builds on the sugar reformulation programme that affects nine categories of food, making 22 in all and covering 50% of all calories being consumed by children. We also launched our latest One You adult nutrition campaign, working with household names that serve millions of people every day to promote healthier food options, including McDonald’s, Greggs, Starbucks, Boots, Subway, Marks and Spencer and Tesco. The campaign aims to help people be more aware of the calories they consume while out and about, whether they are picking up breakfast on the way to work, having lunch at their desks or eating out.

It has a simple message: aim for 400-600-600, that’s 400 calories for breakfast, 600 for lunch and 600 for dinner – with a couple of snacks in between and of course drinks. With the average adult consuming 200-300 calories too many a day and our children up to 500 too many a day, each commercial partner will promote attractive meal options within the 400-600-600 benchmarks. Governments can introduce taxes, manufacturers can make their products healthier, local government can factor health into planning, but ultimately we are also individually responsible and providing information and extending choice is at the heart of this. You can read our report here and find out more in our press release and blog.

Working adults spend on average one third of their waking hours at work, meaning that workplaces have great potential to promote and encourage health and wellbeing. On Wednesday, we launched the ‘Physical activity, healthy eating and healthier weight: a toolkit for employers’, a free resource joining the suite of toolkits we have co-produced with Business in the Community (BITC). This aims to help employers of all sizes achieve a healthier working environment and encourage their staff to eat well and move more. You can see the toolkit here and read more in our blog.

In England, almost three-quarters of women start breastfeeding when their child is born, however by 6-8 weeks this drops to 44%, making our rates among the lowest in the world. We know that health visitors and midwives are absolutely crucial in supporting mothers to breastfeed for longer, and to complement this, our Start4Life campaign has created the ‘Breastfeeding Friend’ available on a range of platforms including Facebook Messenger and now on Amazon Alexa. This technology means mums can get helpful advice at any time of the day or night, quickly and easily. More information can be found here.

This week we also launched the second phase of the Sexual Health ‘Protect Against STIs’ campaign, which encourages condom use to reduce the rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among 16 to 24-year-olds, and raises awareness of the serious consequences of STIs. We are using popular platforms such as Snapchat and Instagram, producing new posters that will be featured in bars and clubs, and have established a partnership with LADbible – a key channel to reach the 16-19 audience. Resources are also being made available for Local Authorities to support and promote the campaign in their localities, including posters to encourage condom use and promote free condom distribution schemes, wallet-sized cards detailing online support, digital assets, and images and films for use on social media channels. You can find out more about the campaign here.

And finally, I would like to thank all of our PHE colleagues who have been involved in the incident in Salisbury this week. This includes our Health Protection team in Bristol, toxicologists, poisons and chemical experts at our Centre for Radiation, Chemical and Environmental Hazards, and emergency response specialists. Based on current evidence, we know that the risk to the wider public is low, however PHE will continue to provide advice to the national response and to local clinicians.

With best wishes,

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

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