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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 November 2004, 12:33 GMT
Measures to cut obesity revealed
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The White Paper outlines plans to cut junk food ads
The government has published its long-awaited White Paper spelling out a raft of measures aimed at improving public health.

Cutting obesity is a top priority, with measures including restrictions on junk food advertising to children and a coding system to identify healthy food.

The White Paper also sets out plans to ban smoking in enclosed public places, including most pubs.

It also covers alcohol misuse and sexual and mental health.

EXPECTED HEALTH REFORMS
Smoking to be banned in restaurants and offices, but only restricted in pubs
Restrictions imposed on junk food ads to children
Nutrition guidance on food packaging
National sexual health campaign targeting young men and women
Clearer labelling on alcohol
Access to 'personal lifestyle gurus' on the NHS

A new health advice service called Health Direct, available over the phone, internet and digital TV will be introduced - based on the existing NHS Direct service.

Everyone will also be entitled to their own personal health guide - and an NHS health trainer.

The government has said it wants to reduce health inequalities by giving everyone the same opportunity to have a healthy lifestyle, focussing efforts on the most deprived areas.

Currently, a child born in Manchester lives at least seven years less than a child born in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea.

Fruit and veg vouchers

Setting out its plans to improve the nation's diet, the government says it will work with the food industry to develop voluntary codes on food and drink promotion to children.

If the industry has not brought in satisfactory measures by 2007, the government has pledged to introduce measures - and potentially legislation - to force it to conform.

PUBLIC HEALTH TARGETS
Focus on government's key target areas

Ministers want to bring in a coding system identifying the nutritional value of foods based on the existing five-a-day labelling which already exists.

They also want the food industry to develop voluntary measures to cut sugar and fat levels in certain foods - as they have with salt.

From next year, eligible pregnant women - including all those under 18 - breastfeeding mothers and young children in low income families will be given vouchers for fresh fruit and vegetables, milk and infant formula.

School meals will have to conform to nutrition guidelines - and their Ofsted inspection will take this into account. Each primary care trust will have to cover the primary and secondary schools in its area.

Children will be encouraged to cycle to school and adults to get active at work.

The government also plans to establish an independent national partnership for obesity which will provide research and evidence on the effectiveness of measures to tackle the problem.

'Up to individuals'

Measures to promote sensible drinking will include health warnings on alcohol products and in places which sell alcohol.

WHITE PAPER DETAILS

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On sexual health, the government will introduce new information campaigns for young people and deliver 48 hour access to genitourinary clinics by 2008. At the moment that target is only met for 38% of attendances.

The government warns 2.7m accidents lead people to seek hospital treatment each year, and accidental injury is one of the leading cause of child death.

It promises to introduce information campaigns on how young people in particular can avoid accidents, and work with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents to look at new ways of delivering accident-prevention messages.

The White Paper also repeats the government's aim to reduce substance misuse amongst young people.

In the foreword, the government says it wants to create an environment in which people are encouraged to adopt healthy lifestyles.

But the White Paper says it is not the role of government to force people to become healthy.

Mr Reid said: "It is clear we need to do more as a society to improve people's health.

"Having defeated many deadly infectious diseases, we now face the challenge of avoidable ill-health caused by poor diet, lack of exercise and smoking.

"People make their own choices about health. This government's role is to help ensure society moves in the right direction - by providing clear information for individuals, working with industry to deliver real progress and where necessary taking decisive action to ensure healthy choices are available to all."

Political criticism

Shadow Health Secretary Andrew Lansley dismissed the government's plans as insubstantial.

He said: "All the government can offer is gimmicks and a nanny state.

"This is a government that needs to get its priorities sorted out. This White Paper is a missed opportunity."

Paul Burstow, for the Liberal Democrats, accused the government of "dithering and hesitation".

"Simply tackling individual lifestyles ignores many fundamental causes of ill-health. The White Paper was silent on issues of poverty, poor housing and poor environment."

The paper was drawn up after one of the largest public consultations, involving 150,000 people, over the summer.

The Department of Health received more than 1,000 submissions from individuals alone - unheard of for a white paper.




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FROM OTHER NEWS SITES:
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