Office for Health Promotion to replace PHE to tackle UK obesity, smoking and mental health issues
No10 today unveiled the fat-fighting quango that will take over from Public Health England when the ailing agency is finally disbanded.
The Office for Health Promotion is tasked with tackling the root causes of illness, stamping out obesity and smoking and improving mental health.
Boris Johnson — once a vocal critic of nanny-state interventions — said the agency, which won’t be up and running until the autumn, will help Britons ‘lead healthy lives’.
PHE is being dismantled over the next few months following widespread criticism of its handling of the Covid pandemic, which the Prime Minister described as ‘sluggish’ last year.
Its disease prevention work is being passed to the UK Health Security Agency, which will prepare the nation for future disease outbreaks or biochemical attacks.
The UKSA will initially focus on fighting Covid, and bring the NHS Test and Trace and the Joint Biosecurity Centre under one roof.
Mountains of studies have shown people who are overweight or smoke are more at risk from a multitude of illnesses — including cancer, heart disease and Covid.
The Office for Health Promotion is tasked with tackling the root causes of ill health, taking over from the branch of PHE best known for putting up posters telling Britons to count calories
Mr Johnson has lost ‘quite a lot of weight’ on a fitness kick triggered by his battle with Covid. He is pictured on a jog today in Westminster with Dilyn, who is chasing Egyptian Geese
What is the Office for Health Promotion?
What will it do?
The OHP will tackled the root causes of ill health, including obesity, smoking and poor mental health.
Boris Johnson said it will help Britons to ‘lead healthy lives’.
The agency will take over the arm of PHE that was responsible for public health campaigns – including putting up posters telling Britons to stop smoking.
When will it open?
Ministers say they plan to get the new centre up and running ‘this autumn’.
Who will run it?
Ministers have yet to decide on who will head up the agency.
Whoever is appointed will report to chief medical officer Chris Whitty and Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
How will it be funded?
The OHP will be backed from the existing Public Health England budget.
Ministers are yet to say how much money has been put aside to run the new agency.
Labour says the agency must be sufficiently funded to ensure it delivers on its promise.
Has there been any controversy?
The Prime Minister had railed against the ‘creep of the nanny state’ just months before the pandemic began, and has written columns berating overweight people as their weight being ‘their own fat fault’.
Announcing the new agency, Mr Johnson said: ‘The new Office for Health Promotion will be crucial in tackling the causes, not just the symptoms, of poor health and improving prevention of illnesses and disease.
‘Covid has demonstrated the importance of physical health in our ability to tackle such illnesses, and we must continue to help people to lead healthy lives so that we can all better prevent and fight illnesses.’
The Prime Minister famously admitted ‘I was too fat’ after the Covid scare which saw him taken into intensive care when he was hospitalised with the virus last April.
Since then, the 56-year-old – regularly pictured out running in London – said he has lost ‘quite a lot’ of weight by cutting down on carbs, chocolate and cheese, as well as exercising regularly.
Mr Johnson has since launched a Downing St drive to crack down on obesity, with measures expected to come into force including a ban on junk food adverts before 9pm and mandatory calorie labelling on restaurant menus.