Cadbury’s have announced that a new Dairy Milk chocolate bar with 30 per cent less sugar will hit the shelves next summer, but before you start panic-buying Dairy Milk, rest assured that the original will still be available.
Glenn Caton, president of Mondelez’s Northern Europe division, said the new bar was ‘being offered as an alternative to, not a replacement for Dairy Milk’.
He added: ‘It’s like Coke, Diet Coke, Coke Zero. Cadbury Dairy Milk doesn’t change, people love it. I’m not a clairvoyant but I’d imagine original Dairy Milk will always be on the shelves.’
The reference to Coke is pertinent. While Lucozade, Irn-Bru and a few other trusted soft drink brands abandoned their original recipe, Coca-Cola stood tall and reminded the public that ‘we listen to you’ (‘… and not the anti-sugar killjoys’, they might have added). By offering choice, Coke‘s sales have been doing fine while Lucozade‘s sales nosedived.
Like Cadbury’s, the makers of Rubicon have used the shipwreck of Lucozade as their lighthouse, reducing the amount of sugar in their main brand while rebranding the classic drink as Rubicon Deluxe. It turns out that consumers want choice. Who knew?
The Dairy Milk reformulation is being portrayed as a triumph for Public Health England’s food reformulation scheme. Food and soft drink companies are constantly launching ‘healthier’ versions of their brands, with or without government pressure, but it seems likely that Cadbury’s new product is a response to Public Health England’s ludicrous targets. It was revealed in May that the goal of reducing sugar in the food supply by 20 per cent was being missed by a country mile. Shrinkflation remains the only viable method for much of the food industry, especially the confectionery sector.
But now we have a 30 per cent reduction in sugar for a major chocolate brand. Are things looking up for Public Health England’s madcap scheme? Judging from this tweet from the BBC, you might think so…
The new Dairy Milk bar will contain 30% less sugar, a bigger reduction than the government had requested https://t.co/ZX9HAnlEiI
This misunderstands the targets and how they are measured. The government is not interested in how many low-sugar or low-calorie products are available to consumers. The companies are not judged on their ability to provide choice. They are judged on sales (or sales weighted averages, to be precise). If we don’t abandon the classic Dairy Milk for Victory Dairy Milk (or whatever it’s going to be called), Cadbury’s work will be in vain.
Last year, Public Health England explicitly warned companies that merely offering ‘healthier’ alternatives will not be enough to satisfy them:
Introducing new, ‘healthier alternative’ products with significantly lower sugar levels, and shifting sales towards these, will also help to achieve a change in the sales weighted average. However, it is important that action predominantly focuses on changing and reducing levels in the standard, everyday products that most people buy. Alternatives to the standard product, even after several years on the market, generally only account for a small proportion of sales and this is unlikely to change. It is our view that offering ‘healthier options’ when core products remain unchanged is unlikely to improve diets overall…
It seems not to have occurred to PHE that ‘healthier’ alternatives only account for ‘a small number of sales’ because most people do not want them. Or perhaps they do know that but believe, like Oliver Cromwell, that the people of England should get ‘not what they want, but what is good for them.’
Either way, Cadbury’s attempt to appease the new breed of puritans is doomed to failure. The ignorant nitwits of the ‘public health’ lobby think that the food industry can trick anybody into buying anything with advertising and a strong brand but, as Lucozade have discovered, this is a not true. Coca-Cola and Cadbury’s are all too aware that the consumer is sovereign. You cannot fundamentally change a trusted brand and assume that people will keep buying it.
It is highly unlikely that consumers will shift to Victory Dairy Milk in sufficient numbers for the company to meet the 20 per cent target. Even if they do, Public Health England has further targets for calorie and fat reduction which the new Dairy Milk cannot help them with. (The new bar has ‘broadly the same calorific content as the original’ making it the perfect diet product for the era of idiots).
Public Health England’s targets cannot be met because they require the consent of the public. People might like the concept of food reformulation in the abstract but the proof is literally in the pudding. If it doesn’t tickle our taste buds, we won’t buy it. Low-fat, low-sugar and low-calorie brands have been on the shelves for decades but, as Public Health England acknowledges, they have never been a match for the tastier originals.
This is why the agency wants to get rid of the originals. If Cadbury’s think that they can appease Public Health England by offering people choice, they don’t understand the ‘public health’ lobby at all.
Moderate alcohol intake is linked with higher semen volume, sperm concentration, and total sperm count, according to new research published in the journal Andrology.
In the study of 323 male patients, 9.6 per cent were abstainers, 30 per cent drank fewer than 1-3 units, 30.3 per cent drank 4-7 units, and 30 per cent drank 8 units per week.
Compared with men drinking fewer than 1-3 units per week, median semen volume was higher in the group drinking between 4 and 7 units per week, as was total sperm count.
Association with sperm concentration was also significant, with a U-shaped trend in groups of alcohol intake.
The study’s lead author, Dr. Elena Ricci, of the Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, in Italy, said: ‘As regards low intake, our findings are consistent with other research. In Italy, alcohol consumption is common but usually limited to small quantities, and this applies in particular to men referring to our Infertility Clinic.’
‘Since the dose makes the poison, they are counselled to limit but not avoid alcohol.’
Several previous studies have shown that excessive alcohol consumption lowers testosterone and sperm levels – and is especially damaging for those trying to conceive, as it can reduce libido, and cause impotence.
As we get older it becomes easier to neglect our health. As we age we increasingly fail to notice the small changes in our lives that can indicate a more serious condition further down the line. But what if our energy use could help us spot these changes and diagnose issues earlier?
Every few seconds, households in the UK share data with their energy supplier, showing spikes in energy use. With the rise of smart meters, we are now able to track this usage down to an individual device, and the data, if read the right way, is able to tell us (for example) the last time the kettle was boiled. This wealth of information is already being gathered by the likes of EDF and British Gas but it can be utilised to tell us so much more about our health.
Our energy use can easily draw a picture of our daily routine, from the time we get up to when we cook in the evening, and this insight can be critical in identifying subtle changes to our routine. As we get older, changes in our behaviour tends to be gradual and difficult to spot, but by accessing data which is already being taken, we can track these changes in an unobtrusive way.
With 3.5 million people living alone aged over 65, there is a much higher risk of gradual changes going unnoticed, with the first sign of an issue often only coming to light after something drastic happens, such as a fall.
Monitoring systems can learn routines over time, and start to distinguish when changes are one offs or a reoccurring issue. While they cannot identify specific health issues, the information can be utilised by health professionals to help them come to a diagnosis more quickly. Signals such as getting up later, using devices in the night, or kitchen appliances going un-used, can help raise red flags before a situation becomes serious.
These monitoring systems will alert the individual of the changes and encourage them to have further conversations with their family and health team, rather than simply dismissing them as ‘old age’.
Conditions which could be identified by these signals include arthritis, and the early stages of dementia and insomnia.
For prioritised cases we also have the option of maximising this data by adding more data points and bringing in other technology. Conditions such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), which effects nearly two per cent of the population, can be better monitored by combining the data with additional sensors and advanced medtech. Interactive weighing scales can help identify a decline in certain heart conditions while home blood oxygen measurements can help those living with COPD to stay independent.
By giving individuals ownership of their data, they can become better informed about their health, and even use it to aid conversations with doctors and other health professionals. Rather than visiting a doctor and trying to describe the history of the presenting condition, individuals can take their data, from over a period of time, to demonstrate how long it has been going on for. This saves time and resource for both the doctor and the patient.
With these advancements, it is important to remember that technology is still not designed to replace doctors and trained health professionals and should rather be used to encourage people to have open conversations about their health, especially as they get older. Early intervention for the vulnerable who are otherwise healthy and active through unobtrusive steps is a great way to prevent bigger issues emerging and helps to free up the already strained NHS.
Louise Rogerson is the COO of Howz, the home monitoring system that keeps families up to date with the wellbeing of elderly relatives, alongside being a chartered physiotherapist with 18 years’ experience of working in the NHS in clinical, operational and commissioning roles
People who have metabolic healthy obesity, but no other metabolic risk factors, have no increased rate of mortality according to new research by York university.
The study, ‘Individuals with obesity but no other metabolic risk factors are not at significantly elevated all-cause mortality risk in men and women’ has been published in the journal Clinical Obesity.
The results could change the way we think about obesity and health, says Jennifer Kuk, the study’s lead author: ‘This is in contrast with most of the literature and we think this is because most studies have defined metabolic healthy obesity as having up to one metabolic risk factor. This is clearly problematic, as hypertension alone increases your mortality risk and past literature would have called these patients with obesity and hypertension, ‘healthy’. This is likely why most studies have reported that ‘healthy’ obesity is still related with higher mortality risk.’
Kuk’s study showed that unlike dyslipidemia, hypertension or diabetes alone, which are related with a high mortality risk, this isn’t the case for obesity alone.
The study followed 54,089 men and women from five cohort studies who were categorized as having obesity alone or clustered with a metabolic factor, or elevated glucose, blood pressure or lipids alone or clustered with obesity or another metabolic factor. Researchers looked at how many people within each group died as compared to those within the normal weight population with no metabolic risk factors.
Current weight management guidelines suggest that anyone with a BMI over 30 kg/m2 should lose weight. This implies that if you have obesity, even without any other risk factors, it makes you unhealthy. Researchers found that 1 out of 20 individuals with obesity had no other metabolic abnormalities.
‘We’re showing that individuals with metabolically healthy obesity are actually not at an elevated mortality rate. We found that a person of normal weight with no other metabolic risk factors is just as likely to die as the person with obesity and no other risk factors. This means that hundreds of thousands of people in North America alone with metabolically healthy obesity will be told to lose weight when it’s questionable how much benefit they’ll actually receive.’
Neck pain is a modern day epidemic due, in no small, part to our love of technology. The sedentary postures people are adopting when using their devices are putting excessive pressure on our necks.
Take a look at people on their phones or iPads and you will see how hunched over they are. This forced position is putting a strain on the neck as it tries to support the weight of the head – the average adult head weights around 10Ibs.
Osteopaths are accustomed to treating people for back pain but the increasing problem with necks and neck pain means the problem is pretty much shared 50/50.
This is especially worrying among young children who regularly play on their parent’s phones and tablets, as their bones are not yet fully formed. There is now a young generation growing up who, by the time they move into adulthood, will have formed permanent rounded shoulders and a concaved chest. For anyone with asthma this is particularly dangerous but generally it can also cause serious respiratory and breathing difficulties. Once the body has formed itself into that position it will be difficult for anyone to take in a normal amount of air into the lungs during each breath. Young bones, when allowed tofully grow into this malformed position will be there permanently.
The back is the foundation for the neck and when both are working optimally together they keep the head supported and facing forward. The whole structure of the body is organised in such a way as to distribute tension spatially and this is a structure that needs to be kept finely tuned.
What other problems are associated with neck pain?
GPs are seeing an increasing number of people complaining of migraines and headaches and without doubt, 80 per cent of these will be posture–related. If the neck is not aligned with the spine it’s going to cause pain and stiffness and that, in turn, will cause pain in the head. Pain is incredibly debilitating, once it is corrected all the stress just disappears from the face and it is possible for people to get their lives back again. It’s all about creating resilience to prevent a problem.
What can be done to avoid it?
Stretches – adults should factor in regular neck stretches into their daily routine. Anyone sitting over a desk at a computer can do some very simple exercises that will help keep the neck supple. Looking down or leaning over for long periods causes stiffness and will result in neck pain as the neck is having to work hard to support the head in that position.
Take a moment to look as far to the left as you can, turning your head that way, hold, then tilt the head up, hold, tilt the head down, now repeat on the right. Looking forward drop your chin down, hold, now look up lifting your chin, hold, turn to the left then to the right back and forth slowly, drop your right ear towards your right shoulder, hold, repeat on the left, then turn to the right and hold, look up, hold, look down, hold, finally tip your head forward and then look left, then right, pausing in between. The entire sequence should take about two to five minutes and should be done every two to three hours.
Parents need to be aware when their children are sitting for prolonged periods. They should make sure they’re not slouched and put a time limit on technology otherwise they are storing up long-term pain.
Pilates and Yoga are both excellent for helping to improve posture by keeping the joints supple and the surrounding muscles strong and supportive of the head.
Regular visits to the osteopath will keep things on track. Sometimes we have to accept there are some things we can’t do for ourselves, and an osteopath can see problems that might be starting to arise. It only takes one wrong move if your neck is not in a good state – and with no warning you can find the nerves have been pinched and that you are in extreme pain.
Hydration is definitely something to consider. It is not commonly known that dehydration affects the neck muscles but if these are not hydrated they can feel heavy and lead-like.
There’s a fine line between too many pillows and too few that offer a shallow support allowing the neck to start sinking at an angle. Orthopaedic pillows are normally the best because they’re shaped according to the contour of the neck.
Stress is one of the biggest contributing factors in neck pain. When we’re stressed our natural go-to position is to mildly tense the shoulders, without thinking about it. When people are stressed they also often find themselves grinding their teeth and clenching their jaw and this also causes neck pain.
By being mindful of the causes of neck pain, doing your best to avoid them and regularly stretching the neck muscles, you should be able to avoid neck pain and its associated issues. If you are unfortunate enough to be suffering, then get help as soon as you can. There is no need to keep suffering – there are plenty of gentle ways to treat a painful neck.
Oliver Eaton is a qualified and registered osteopath, medical acupuncturist and musculoskeletal injection therapist. He specialises in the treatment of arthritis and headaches / migraines with patients all over the UK and Europe
It’s 1970 and like many teenagers, I was stationed in my bedroom playing Led Zeppelin as loud as I could get away with, much to the irritation of my parents and probably neighbours. (Sorry Dad!).
Since the audio amplifier became widely available in the 1950’s parents all over the world have been shouting the all too familiar phrase ‘turn it down’ through hostile teenage doors.
In general parents don’t like the music their children listen to and even if they did, certainly not at the child’s preferred volume. With the arrival of personal headphones came a heavy sigh of relief for parents all over the world. Little did we know that there was something more sinister hiding in our new found peace and quiet?
We swapped public listening for private listening much to the delight of parents everywhere but unfortunately, as is often the case we have solved one problem and caused another.
On the surface swapping an irritated parent and weekends of audio chaos for a quiet youngster immersed in their music or gaming may sound ideal, however these long periods of audio exposure are slowly crippling our children’s hearing.
A study in the US suggests that ‘tweenagers’ (these between 10 and 14 years of age) are spending an average of four hours per day on their devices, and much of this time includes the use of headphones. When you consider that the devices used can produce dose levels that are damaging after only 20 minutes a day we start to see a troubling picture emerging.
We have around 15,000 auditory hair cells in each ear at birth; you don’t get any more and when they are gone they are gone and so is your hearing. Most of us are familiar with the dangers of very loud sounds and the permanent damage they can cause. Less well known is that exposure to large sound doses regularly and repeatedly can cause irreparable damage to the hair cells within our ears. This damage takes longer to show up and may be ‘silently’ affecting us all.
So what is a sound dose? A sound dose is a complex calculation taking into account how long you listen for, how loud you listen and the energy content of what you listen to.
For example; speech is relatively low energy content so you can listen for a long period of time at a high volume level without experiencing a particularly high sound dose,
However my much loved Led Zeppelin music has a high energy content so will give you a high sound dose in a short period of time.
As a result of a number of high profile campaigns the majority of headphone users are now aware of the risks. However few of them act as the only tool available to them until recently, has been the simple volume level warning on their device, which, if obeyed makes the content inaudible in many listening situations.
The London Underground for example is so loud that many users are forced to ignore their devices warnings and turn their volume to a damaging level on a daily basis. Long term, this will damage your hearing for good.
So what’s to be done?
We clearly can’t stop headphone use, but we can perhaps be smart about it. Ideally you would manage your daily exposure to make sure that you don’t overdo it and that if you do at least you will know about it.
1. First thing to do would be to download a headphone hearing safeguarding app, such as HearAngel, which will give you information on your exposure, much as a Fit Bit monitors your physical activity, so you know when you are overdoing it and can make informed decisions. Some of these apps also have optional automatic protection and parental control features so you can safeguard your children’s hearing.
2. Secondly consider the headphones you use. If you listen, as about 30 per cent of people on public transport do, consider upgrading from your ear buds to some good quality over-ear headphones. The sound quality will usually be better and the over-ear cups will reduce the background noise so that you can listen at a lower level, extending your safe listening period.
3. Finally, if you travel on very noisy public transport, such as London Underground for example, you might want to consider getting some active noise cancelling headphones. These headphones use very clever electronics to reduce the background noise even more allowing you to further reduce your listening level and extend your safe listening period.
Please don’t sleepwalk into hearing loss, it takes a little while to become noticeable, but when you do notice it the damage is done and it is too late. No more beloved Led Zeppelin! Use the technology that is available to help you to protect yourself and most of all enjoy your listening.
Stephen Wheatley is a Co-Founder of HearAngel LimitEar, a company which was formed to eight years ago to develop technologies to protect the hearing of headphone users in the work environment.
Innovative for its time, the trusty fax machine was for many decades a mainstay of office life. Across the NHS, just like every other organisation, it became a vital means of communication between hospitals, GP surgeries, care homes and pharmacies. Yet as computers and emails – and then mobiles and messaging platforms like WhatsApp – took over in the workplace, the fax machine became an obsolete dinosaur, gathering dust in store cupboards.
But while the world moved on in the Noughties, New Labour’s failed IT projects meant the NHS remained the world’s biggest user of fax machines, much to the frustration of many within the health service. Former NHS IT boss Tim Kelsey even proclaimed he wanted to bonfire the fax machine.
Fax machines were often perplexing for a new generation of doctors for whom it was an unfamiliar relic from the past. To be fair, Britain was not alone: ‘I had zero context for how to make it work,’ said one Millennial junior doctor in America when facing the prospect of using a fax machine for the first time. The difference, in Britain at least, is we now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to transform the NHS’s technology and productivity.
As the NHS looks towards its next 70 years, we need to use some of the £20billion annual funding boost secured by outgoing Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to put in place a digital-first system, offering cradle to grave healthcare that can be accessed anywhere and anytime.
By doing so we can consign to history Blair and Brown’s toxic legacy of failed top-down investment into new technology, which left a long tail of inefficiency that the current Government has spent the last eight years rectifying. Developing a powerful system of digital patient records through the NHS Spine, AI-powered clinical decision tools improving diagnostics and barcodes in hospitals to improve patient safety are just a few of Hunt’s notable tech achievements during his time in office.
However, tapping into the vast potential of new technology means going beyond funding alone, and requires a significant culture change, one where innovation becomes the central focus of NHS bosses.
That’s the argument I made in my report published by the Centre for Policy Studies recently when I called for the NHS to ensure that 100 per cent of all interactions within the health service are digitally driven by 2028.
For example, a new comprehensive app – which I’ve christened NHS NOW – should be launched to ensure GP appointments, hospital visits, healthcare advice, NHS Direct, lifestyle tips and emergency services are all accessible digitally from one place. As a former Digital Minister who has always championed the tech industry, new Health Secretary Matt Hancock is in a strong position to build on this vision as the NHS continues the development of its first universal app – due to be released later this year. It would give the smartphone generation – and indeed older patients – the service they want whilst saving billions through efficiency.
Similarly, robotics are increasingly used in the NHS too, and greater automation could save close to £13billion a year – around 10 per cent of the NHS’s operational budget. This money should be ringfenced, with a clear commitment to put back every pound saved from back office automation into front line services.
Tomorrow’s technology-driven healthcare is already here: personalised medicine using genetic sequencing can target diseases with specialist drugs, while AI powered by Big Data can improve early detection of cancer. With a wealth of patient records, the NHS is better placed than any healthcare organisation in the world to take advantage of these changes. The Prime Minister predicted in a speech recently that harnessing these new Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies could mean 22,000 fewer people dying from cancer each year by 2033.
But for that to become a reality, the welcome long-term investment for the NHS should be digitally focused so that its productivity rises, and it fully harnesses the apps and new technologies that are already transforming other aspects of our lives. The first task on the agenda for the new Health Secretary should be ensuring we see a bonfire of the remaining Labour-era fax machines. Only then can we be sure that the NHS is truly fit for the future.
Alan Mak is the Conservative Member of Parliament for Havant. His Centre for Policy Studies report, Powerful Patients, Paperless Systems: How new technology can renew the NHS, can be downloaded here
Living close to nature and spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits, according to new research from the University of East Anglia.
Exposure to green space reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure.
Populations with higher levels of exposure are also more likely to report good overall health.
The study’s lead author, Caoimhe Twohig-Bennett, said: ‘Spending time in nature certainly makes us feel healthier, but until now the impact on our long-term wellbeing hasn’t been fully understood. We gathered evidence from over 140 studies involving more than 290 million people to see whether nature really does provide a health boost.’
The research team studied data from 20 countries including the UK, the US, Spain, France, Germany, Australia and Japan, where Shinrin yoku or ‘forest bathing’ is already a popular practice.
‘Green space’ was defined as open, undeveloped land with natural vegetation as well as urban green spaces, which included urban parks and street greenery.
The team analysed how the health of people with little access to green spaces compared to that of people with the highest amounts of exposure.
‘We found that spending time in, or living close to, natural green spaces is associated with diverse and significant health benefits. It reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, and preterm birth, and increases sleep duration.’
‘People living closer to nature also had reduced diastolic blood pressure, heart rate and stress. In fact, one of the really interesting things we found is that exposure to greenspace significantly reduces people’s levels of salivary cortisol – a physiological marker of stress.’
‘This is really important because in the UK, 11.7 million working days are lost annually due to stress, depression or anxiety.’
‘Although we have looked at a large body of research on the relationship between greenspace and health, we don’t know exactly what it is that causes this relationship. People living near greenspace likely have more opportunities for physical activity and socialising. Meanwhile, exposure to a diverse variety of bacteria present in natural areas may also have benefits for the immune system and reduce inflammation.’
The study’s co-author, Andy Jones, said: ‘We often reach for medication when we’re unwell but exposure to health-promoting environments is increasingly recognised as both preventing and helping treat disease. Our study shows that the size of these benefits can be enough to have a meaningful clinical impact.’
The research team hope that their findings will prompt doctors and other healthcare professionals to recommend that patients spend more time in greenspace and natural areas.
Twohig-Bennett said: ‘We hope that this research will inspire people to get outside more and feel the health benefits for themselves. Hopefully our results will encourage policymakers and town planners to invest in the creation, regeneration, and maintenance of parks and greenspaces, particularly in urban residential areas and deprived communities that could benefit the most.’
A sugar tax introduced on soft drinks in Chile has failed to reduce inequalities in diet-related health, new research has revealed.
Researchers analysed household grocery purchasing data for three years before the tax was introduced and for one year afterwards. The tax was introduced in Chile in 2014.
The policy targeted any non-alcoholic beverages to which colourants, flavourings or sweeteners have been added. For beverages with an added sugar concentration of 6.25 grams per 100ml or more, the existing tax was increased from 13 per cent to 18 per cent; while for those below this threshold, the tax was decreased from 13 per cent to 10 per cent, producing an 8 per cent tax difference.
For example, the tax change, if fully transmitted to the consumer, would increase the prices of a 500ml sugary beverage from 500 pesos (£0.60) to 525 pesos (£0.62), and it would drop the price of an equally priced non-sugary beverage to 485 pesos (£0.57).
The authors of the report conclude that despite the tax incentive being comparatively small, there are signs that purchasing of beverages with higher sugar content declined, particularly among high socioeconomic groups – though this was deemed statistically insignificant.
The study revealed an overall 21.6 per cent decrease in the monthly purchased volume of the higher taxed, sugary soft drinks. Among middle and high socioeconomic groups, the monthly purchased volume fell by 16 per cent and 31 per cent, respectively. There was a 12 per cent reduction in purchase volume for the low socioeconomic group.
By contrast, the volume of non-sugary soft drinks, for which the tax rate had been decreased, showed no increase in purchased volume for any socioeconomic groups.
Marc Suhrcke, Professor of Global Health Economics at the University of York, said: ‘The results suggest that the Chilean tax policy may have been effective in reducing consumption of sugary drinks, though not necessarily to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in diet-related health.’
‘Further evaluations are needed to analyse the policy effect on purchasing of soft drinks in the long run as well as to evaluate the impact on health outcomes.’
Professor Cuadrado, from the University of Chile, said: ‘Our results suggest an overall reduction of sugar consumption after the implementation of the tax in Chile. From a public health perspective, even a small reduction in sugar intake at the population level could lead to significant health gains.’
‘Other countries may take heart from our findings, in that it indicates that the tax incentive may not need to be huge to have impact. It also shows that there may be more than one way in which an SSB tax can be implemented with some success.’
A new survey by the Local Tennis Leagues shows that its members have experienced a range of health benefits since taking up the sport.
Over 90 per cent of members say they feel fitter, and 86 per cent report improvements in their mood and mental health. A third of respondents also said they had lost weight – in many cases as much as half a stone.
Further research by the University of Oxford indicates that tennis improves strength, flexibility, stamina and cardio-vascular fitness and finds that those who play tennis actually live longer.
Dr Charlie Foster, one of the authors of the report, said: ‘The Local Tennis Leagues survey shows that tennis players experience a range of physical and mental health benefits which is consistent with previous research. Tennis offers its players a perfect mix of heart and lung fitness, muscular strength with balance and co-ordination, alongside enjoyment and social benefits.’
Nigel Billen, who founded LTL with Sally Kinnes in 2005, added: ‘When we set up Local Tennis Leagues, with just a single league in Highbury Fields in Islington, we had no idea how popular it would become. Our survey partly explains why our players are so keen to keep playing. All exercise offers health benefits but the full body workout that tennis provides, combined with mental stimulation, is rare to find in any other sport. One of the main things all our players say is that it’s not just the fitness and the competition that makes them want to keep playing, but also the friendships they have made.’