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Duncan Selbie's Friday message - 29 June 2018

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Dear everyone

This week saw Chapter Two of the Government’s Childhood Obesity Plan published which is a bold and strong step forward. The plan aims to halve childhood obesity by 2030 through a series of new measures, based on PHE evidence, including proposals for  the introduction of a 9pm watershed for the  advertising of unhealthy foods, restrictions of price and prime location promotions including end of aisles and checkouts and calorie labelling at point of choice in high street restaurants and takeaways. Reversing the obesity epidemic is possible if everyone pulls together and no other country in the world is taking action this comprehensive. You can read more in my blog.

We have also today published our new fast food map, which shows the relationship between higher density of fast food outlets and higher levels of deprivation.

On Tuesday, PHE published its first report on reproductive health. We produced a summary of data showing the current status of reproductive health, worked closely with experts and partners to agree a consensus statement and conducted a large population based survey.  The survey revealed that 31% of women experience severe reproductive health symptoms, but less than half seek help, and that women would like reproductive health concerns to be normalised so they can be discussed openly and self-managed where possible. To coincide with this, we published the latest edition of Health Matters, focusing on an integrated approach to reproductive health and pregnancy planning, and on maintaining good health throughout the reproductive years. You can see the full edition here and read more in our blog.​

Star Wars is the focus for this summer’s Change4Life collaboration between PHE and Disney to encourage children to Train Like a Jedi. The evidence says children are inspired to move more when they see their favourite characters being active and we expect this fun and creative programme to be a great success. You can find out more here.

Adopting a community-centred approach matters when it comes to making a positive change happen for people. Earlier this month the renowned Bromley-by-Bow Centre published their research on what works through their ‘Unleashing Healthy Communities’ report. Bromley-by-Bow is a vibrant and ethnically diverse area of East London that has transformed the health and prosperity of thousands of people through better employment prospects, education and healthcare. PHE has helped support this research and will be working with Bromley-by Bow to encourage wider learning and further adoption of community-centred approaches across England.

And finally, on Wednesday evening at Colindale, our scientific campus in North London, a ceremony took place for the graduates of our employment programme for people with a learning disability and/or who are on the autism spectrum, called Project SEARCH. The average employment rate for individuals aged 18–24 with a learning disability in the UK is just 7%, but for those involved in Project SEARCH, this rises to 65%. I met the students and their friends and  families during a moving ceremony and I could not be more proud of them and our Colindale colleagues. On the same evening this work on Project SEARCH saw PHE’s Gwyn Morris and Paul Laidler awarded the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Award from the Association for Innovation, Research and Technology Organisations, which is a well-deserved recognition for two fabulous colleagues who have put so much into the programme.

Best wishes,




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

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