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Physical Activity

Volume 406: debated on Friday 23 May 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health (1) what measures are being taken to promote physical activity at a cross-departmental level; and how plans to promote physical activity are co-ordinated between departments; [114799](2) what measures his Department is taking to promote the health benefits of physical activity; how these measures are being co-ordinated; and what the long-term strategy is for investment in health promoting physical activity programmes. [114798]

The Government recognises the importance of a strategic approach in order to increase rates of physical activity. The Department works closely with other Government Departments to ensure that policy initiatives on physical activity, sport and recreation, education and transport are co-ordinated and contribute to our shared goal of increasing access and rates of physical activity. This has been backed up by significant investment, including £581 million from the New Opportunities Fund for a physical education and sports programme, £459 million to transform physical education, school sport and club links over the next three years and £2.6 million for a new programme of local exercise action pilots, led by primary care trusts.The joint Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS)/Strategy Unit Report "Game Plan" set out a new target of 70 per cent., of the population to be active, half an hour"s exercise five days a week, by 2020. In order to deliver this target a central Department of Health/DCMS-led Sport and Physical Activity Board (SPAB) is being set up, which will be responsible for strategic overview, planning and co-ordination and will report to a ministerial committee. As part of the communications strategy, work is under way to develop a physical activity communication message for both adults and children.At a national level, Ministers and government officials from the DCMS, the Department for Education and Skills and the Department of Health have regular meetings to ensure joint working and coordination on issues relating to physical activity and sport.At a regional level the positioning of regional directors of public health and their teams in the Government offices of the regions provides a very real opportunity to make connections across policy areas that will support increased physical activity.While locally, PCTs have a key responsibility for ensuring that a strategic approach is taken to increasing physical activity through their involvement in local strategic partnerships.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what (a) funding and (b) funding as a percentage of departmental expenditure his Department allocated to measures to promote physical activity in the last year for which figures are available. [114800]

The Department of Health is committed to developing policies that provide people with the skills, information and support to make and sustain healthy lifestyle choices.Between April 2002 and March 2003 the Department of Health made available £710,000 to fund a physical activity programme to:

develop and communicate the evidence base for physical activity
support the delivery of planning and priorities framework targets and national service framework milestones
work with other Government departments and stakeholders to enhance opportunities for physical activity

It is not possible to express the expenditure on physical activity promotion as a percentage of the total Department of Health budget. The amount spent by primary care trusts on the promotion of physical activity from the devolved Department of Health budgets is not known.

Feeding into all three strands of the programme and accounting for £450,000 of the funding allocation in 2002–03 are the Local Exercise Action Pilots.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what the estimated cost to the NHS is of conditions related to low levels of physical activity among the population. [114801]

Current projections estimate the cost of inactivity in England in the region of £325 million per year in direct healthcare costs as quoted in Chapter 2 of the joint the Department for Culture, Media and Sport/Strategy Unit Report Game Plan: a strategy for delivering Government"s sport and physical activity objectives published in December 2002. This was assessed by considering the costs associated with angina pectoris, myocardial infarction, stroke, colon cancer, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and osteoarthritis. Inactivity was defined as doing fewer than three occasions of moderate or vigorous activity in the last four weeks.If other factors are included such as lost earnings due to sickness and premature death then the overall figure has been calculated at approximately £2 billion per year.

These estimates are based upon an assumption of relatively low levels of inactivity and a narrow range of diseases. If higher levels of inactivity and a wider range of diseases are assumed then estimates of the cost of inactivity to the National Health Service rise from £325 million to £1.7 billion per year or the equivalent of 5 per cent. of the annual budget.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health which pilot schemes were selected under the Local Exercise Action Pilots programme; what the proposed timescale for the selection of schemes following the initial announcement of the LEAP programme was; and whether the selection process met the planned timeframe. [114802]

The following primary care trusts were selected to lead the nine local exercise action pilots (LEAPs):

  • Durham Dales PCT;
  • Hastings and St. Leonards PCT;
  • Great Yarmouth PCT;
  • North Kirklees PCT;
  • Wandsworth PCT;
  • Dudley, Beacon and Castle PCT;
  • Ashton, Leigh and Wigan PCT;
  • Nottingham City PCT; and
  • West of Cornwall PCT.
The LEAP Programme was announced by the then Minister for Public Health (Yvette Cooper) on 20 May 2002.

September to October 2002—PCTs in neighbourhood renewal fund areas were invited to submit "expressions of interest" for the LEAP programme.
November 2002–31 PCTs were asked to work up full applications by 10 January 2003.
January 2003—applications were assessed and rank ordered by regional panels who made their recommendations to the national management group.
February 2003—the management group met to review the regional recommendations.

Following this meeting recommendations for the nine pilot sites were made, and I endorsed the nine proposed sites which were announced on 24 March 2003.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what evaluation has been made of measures by primary care trusts to promote physical activity with particular reference to recommendations contained in the National Service Frameworks. [114804]

Milestones 2 and 3 of Chapter 1 of the national service framework (NSF) for coronary heart disease (CHD) concern the delivery of local programmes of effective policies on reducing smoking, promoting healthy eating, increasing physical activity and reducing overweight and obesity.In April 2001, the Department of Health commissioned the Health Development Agency to undertake an analysis of local physical activity policies. The South East Public Health Observatory was contracted by the Department of Health to undertake a national survey of progress against Milestone 3 in March 2002.

This research showed that the milestones have catalysed development of physical activity policies. However, these policies are of varying status and maturity—ranging from well established, new and emerging to those still being developed.

The Commission for Health Improvement/Audit Commission joint national study into the implementation of the NSF for CHD is now under way. Jointly with the Audit Commission, CHI will undertake 26 local reviews of progress against the CHD NSF. The first local reviews started in April 2003, and are due to be completed in April 2004. The national overview will be prepared in the summer of 2004 and the final report is anticipated in the autumn.

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of levels of physical activity among (a) adults and (b) children. [114806]

The most recent information about levels of physical activity among adults and children can be derived from the 1998 Health Survey for England. For adults aged 16 and over four types of activity are asked about in the survey: activity at work; in the home (housework, gardening); walks of 15 minutes or more and sports and exercise activities. For most activity types, survey informants were asked on how many days in the last four weeks they had participated in the activity for at least 15 minutes a time.Current guidelines recommend that adults should take part in at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity activity, ideally on a daily basis. This may include the accumulation of shorter bouts of activity to meet the 30 minutes target. The table summarises participation in activity. The category High represents the level of activity that fulfils the current physical activity recommendations for adults. Among men over a third, 37 per cent, were in the High category while among women, a quarter were in this category.Further information about adult physical activity from the Health Survey will be available in the 2003 survey, the results from which will be available at the end of 2004.

Summary of overall participation in physical activities, by sex—

Aged 16 and over
Per cent.
Summary activity level1
1 The summary activity level classification is as follows:
Low activity—Up to three occasions of moderate or vigorous

activity of at least 30 minutes" duration in the last four weeks (less

than once a week)
Medium activity—Four to 19 occasions of moderate or vigorous

activity of at least 30 minutes" duration in the last four weeks (at

least once, less than five days a week)
High activity—20 or more occasions of moderate or vigorous

activity of at least 30 minutes" duration in the last four weeks (at

least five days a week)


Health Survey for England 1998

For children, the latest information available is from the 1997 survey. This looked at children"s involvement in sports and exercise, active play, walking and, for age eight and above, work at home such as housework or cleaning a car. Recommended activity levels for children are 60 minutes moderate physical activity, seven days a week. The survey showed that overall, 55 per cent., of boys and 39 per cent., of girls achieved this level. Any activity carried out as part of the school curriculum is not included in these estimates. Further information about children"s physical activity will be available from the 2002 Health Survey, which focused on children and young people, the results from which are due to be published at the end of the year.

Information can also be derived from the Office for National Statistics UK 2000 Time Use Survey which measured the amount of time spent by the UK population (aged 8 and above) on various activities. The survey shows that four in five people did some type of physical activity in the four weeks before the survey and that they spend more time taking part in sports and other physical activities than watching it on TV, 16 minutes a day compared with four minutes a day.