Page 2: Monitoring the environment
The environment consists of all those factors external to decision makers that they must consider when they make an important decision, introduce a new policy and deliver a programme.
In developing the NHSP, key external factors that needed to be considered included key changes taking place in society. Although people today are living longer (thanks to factors such as high quality water, cleaner fuels, and warmer, drier homes) society still faces some serious health issues.
Although we have better public health and treatment systems, increased affluence has brought new problems of its own. For example, the UK faces rising levels of obesity and marked increases in the number of overweight children.
- Nationally, about 1 boy out of every 5 aged 2-15 is overweight, and about one quarter of those boys who are overweight are severely overweight (obese).
- Nationally, more than one girl in every 4 is overweight, and again about one quarter of those girls are obese.
In the past 25 years, the incidence of obesity in the UK population has increased fourfold. It has brought with it associated health problems e.g. chronic heart disease, diabetes, kidney failure, back pain and psychological damage.
The cost of obesity is estimated at £3.3 billion per year. This cost doubles when we include the costs associated with people who are less severely overweight.
Key facts about obesity
Today, many children appear to have fewer opportunities for physical activity; more are overweight and some obese. Some commentators suggest that this is because children and young people are:
- eating more convenience and fast foods
- spending more time watching television or playing computer games
- spending less time being physically active because of an increase in car travel and a heightened concern about the potential risks of unsupervised outdoor play.