Health news in July

Couch to 5k

The Couch to 5k app has now been downloaded more than 5 million times.  This is a free app which helps beginners improve their fitness by following a running programme. This involves using the app three times a week to gradually increase how long and far they are running for.

The app was downloaded 2.36 million times between March 2020 and July 2021 showing an increase in people trying to get fit during lockdown. There was a 92% increase in users in 2020 compared to 2019.

The app has been available since 2016 and is a collaboration between the BBC and Public Health England. It is going to be promoted during the Tokyo Olympic Games hoping that people will be inspired by the sport they are watching on TV to get more active themselves.

Smoking in Pregnancy

Data has recently been released showing that rates of women smoking during pregnancy have dropped to their lowest level since records began in 2006. In 2020/21 it was found that 9.5% of pregnant women smoked compared to 10.4% in 2019/20. 

The government target is to reach less than 6% and at present only 32 of the 134 Clinical Commissioning Groups who reported their data are achieving this. Rates of smoking in pregnancy are declining faster between 2019/2 and 2020/21 than in previous years. It was also found that the percentage of women smoking at time of delivery fell from 9.5% from September to December 2020 to 8.9% from January to March 2021.

While these figures show that progress is being made there is still some work to be done to meet the government’s national target.


Update from the National Food Strategy

The National Food Strategy is a government commissioned review of the food systems in England. It has been in place since 2019 and its aim is to change the way food is produced and consumed in England to reduce poverty, improve the health of the population and reduce the impact of food production on the environment.

The latest recommendations were released this month. They include:

  • Putting a tax on sugar and salt that is bought wholesale which will encourage food manufacturers to reformulate their products and make them healthier. This would raise funds to offer free school meals to more children.
  • Increasing food education in schools to reverse declining culinary skills amongst the whole population.
  • Encouraging the population to eat more plant based foods to reduce meat consumption for the benefits to our health and the environment.
  • A new scheme where GPs can prescribe fruit and vegetables to those with a low income.

The government will now review these proposals and publish their response in 6 months time.

Health news in July