Patients visiting GP clinics will be "prescribed physical activity just as readily as drugs" in a bid to get the country fit, it has been announced.
The government's new "Be Active, Be Healthy" campaign aims to get "millions moving" across England by advising GPs to give patients "brief advice" about increasing levels of exercise.
Recent figures show that each primary care trust (PCT) spends an average of £5 million a year on costs linked to a lack of physical activity and obesity, including heart disease, cancer and type 2 diabetes.
Similar tactics have been a success when giving people advice about alcohol and smoking, a Department of Health spokesman said. People could be asked about how much activity they do when they visit their surgery about an ailment, she added.
More than 27 million adults in England do not get enough exercise and 14 million of those do not even do 30 minutes a week, figures suggest.
A British Medical Association (BMA) spokesman said: "Many of these proposals are a step in the right direction.
"However, arrangements are not widespread and the government needs to provide better infrastructure, funding and guidance to make sure that health professionals are able to proactively prescribe physical activity more effectively."
Copyright © Press Association 2009
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"How can Ms Richardson say helping people to lose weight, exercise and eat healthily is a ridiculous scheme? Surely we are wasting more money on treating people with type 2 diabetes, heart problems and high lipid levels, not to mention the tip of the iceberg illnesses that could be prevented if our patients took control of their lifestyles better?!! Advice and support for patients has always been part of good nursing skills - if we don't bother who else is going to? It's up to the patient if they want to take advice on board." - Carole O'Connor, East Sussex
"At last there is a focus on prevention in primary care with the emphasis on all those who work within it to participate in prevention advice, particularly the clinicians. This health and exercise message is long overdue. One has to keep on with ill health prevention messages and eventually our efforts will pay dividends, both economically and healthily." - V Henry
"I personally am sick and tired of this 'nanny state' telling us what to do. I don't want to listen to an overweight GP telling me what and how I should eat and how I should be exercising. I would like to know how much money is being wasted on this ridiculous scheme when it could be going to better use to help those who really need it and more importantly WANT it!!" - Marie Richardson, Manchester
You are currently leaving the Nursing in Practice site. Are you sure you want to proceed?