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Last Updated: Saturday, 13 November, 2004, 14:19 GMT
'Lifestyle gurus' funded by NHS
Burger
Patients could be referred to nutritionists under the new scheme
People who want to give up smoking, lose weight and live more healthy lives are to be given expert help which will be funded by the NHS.

Family doctors and other health services will be able to refer patients to personal lifestyle coaches who will create fitness programmes for them.

Specialists will take extra training to qualify as NHS coaches.

The plans form part of the government's Public Health White Paper, which will be published on Tuesday.

The most likely scenario is that a GP will refer someone who is perhaps overweight to a fitness trainer who will in turn develop a tailored programme for that individual
BBC correspondent John McIntyre

BBC correspondent John McIntyre said the scheme was "yet another" initiative aimed at making the public more healthy.

"The most likely scenario is that a GP will refer someone who is perhaps overweight to a fitness trainer who will in turn develop a tailored programme for that individual," he said.

"Likewise, they could also be referred to a nutritionist."

A range of expertise is expected to be used in the programme.

The new staff, referred to by ministers as "health promotion personnel" have already been dubbed "lifestyle gurus" by the media.

UNHEALTHY BRITAIN
One in five adults is obese
One in four men and one in six women drink more alcohol than they should
Most adults do not exercise often enough
Just one in four eat the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day

More details about how the campaign will be implemented and funded will be made available when the paper is published on Tuesday.

The government is likely to face further accusations that is developing a nanny state.

Health Secretary John Reid was expected to spell out the framework for the new scheme in a speech to the political think tank Progress conference in London on Sunday.

He has rejected the "crude characterisation of all state intervention as 'nannyism'".

Tuesday's White Paper is also expected to include anti-smoking measures, particularly controlling smoking in pubs and restaurants.


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