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Last Updated: Friday, 11 July, 2003, 05:44 GMT 06:44 UK
Call for school sweet sales ban
Fizzy drinks
Fizzy drinks: Schools should offer health options, too, say doctors
Doctors in Wales are urging schools to ban fizzy drinks and chocolate bars as part of a drive to make people more responsible for their own health.

They are adding their voice to a Welsh assembly report which calls for everyone to ease the strain on the NHS by making more of an effort to stay healthy.

The Review of Health and Social Care in Wales claims the NHS will not be able to cope unless there is a "step-change" in the way individuals and communities accept responsibility for their lifestyle.

Richard Lewis, a GP and secretary of the British Medical Association in Wales, said ridding schools of vending machines with sugary drinks and sweets was a good way to drive home that message to the adults of tomorrow.

You can't just leave it to the doctors
Tony Beddow, Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care

He said: "We're asking that, where snacks and drinks need to be made available, the healthy options need to be balanced with the unhealthy options.

"Children do need access to something to drink during the day, and I think a number of schools do provide non-detrimental alternatives such as bottled water.

"Very often children follow a learned behaviour from their family - those are the role models they tend to follow.

"In order to empower patients to adopt healthy lifestyles and healthy living, that education has to start at school."

Food for thought: Not eating this could help the NHS in Wales

"It's very much common sense stuff - healthy eating, plenty of fresh fruit in your diet and a sensible exercise regime.

The NHS in Wales is struggling to cope with the rise in obesity cases and it is feared that, in 15 years' time, a third of the population could be obese.

The assembly-commissioned report said the public needed to do much more to relieve the burden on the service, which faces collapse without major reform.

Derek Wanless, the former chief executive of NatWest bank, was the report adviser.

"No amount of effort by the health and care services can be a substitute for this," he said.

He called for "policy action to raise public awareness" of how people can look after their own health.

Health service analyst Tony Beddow, senior fellow at the Welsh Institute for Health and Social Care, said the document, published by health secretary Jane Hutt on Wednesday, reflected the view of many health professionals.

Doctors: People should not leave their health just to the experts

Mr Beddow, a former chief executive of a Welsh health authority, said: "You can't just leave it to the doctors."

"We have a responsibility to our own health.

"Smoking, diet and exercise are the obvious things but alcohol, violence and drugs misuse are also coming up the agenda."

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