A new report in the UK has urged the UK government to consider taxes on fatty foods and a ban on smoking in public places as part of a radical disease prevention strategy.

The report, commissioned by Chancellor Gordon Brown, comes from Derek Wanless, a former chief executive of NatWest Bank.

An earlier Wanless review, which concluded that the UK needed a significant increase in health care resources, prompted Ministers to invest billions more pounds in the NHS.

The latest report asks Mministers to consider a range of options to transform the NHS from a national sickness service, which treats disease, to a national health service, which focuses on preventing it.

Possible options include taxing fatty foods, banning smoking in public places, subsidizing gym memberships, raising taxes on cigarettes, and encouraging industry to reduce salt levels in food.

'Studies estimate that a workplace smoking ban in England might reduce smoking prevalence by around 4 percentage points - equivalent to a reduction from the present 27% prevalence rate to 23%,' the report says.

It stresses that individuals have a responsibility for improving their own health and cannot leave everything to government and industry.

The independent health policy think tank, the King's Fund, said the report was a 'wake-up call' to government, the NHS and the public.

Chief executive Niall Dickson, a former editor of Nursing Times, said: 'There is a juggernaut heading for the NHS with the obesity and diabetes epidemic, worsening rates of binge drinking and the worrying rise in sexually transmitted disease.

'We are all just beginning to wake up to the fact that the vast amount of time and money that has been invested in trying to make our health service more efficient will be to no avail if high levels of preventable illness hit us over the next 10 to 20 years.'

Tag Cloud