Now the Government should consider drawing on the experience of the fitness guru, and others, as it launches a new Office for Health Promotion to tackle obesity and poor mental health.
The policy announcement coincides with calls by the Centre for Ageing Better for exercise classes for the over-50s to be broadcast each day after figures suggested older people have moved around less during the pandemic.
Yet, while this can be attributed to the proportion of senior citizens having to ‘shield’ from others due to underlying health issues, policy challenges such as obesity and mental health long precede the pandemic.
Indeed they were prevalent in the late 1990s when Tony Blair and New Labour started to pursue a ‘nanny state’ approach to policy-making in this field which was soon replicated by successive governments.
However the sledgehammer approach of taxes and bans favoured by Public Health England for so long has simply not worked, hence this timely desire for a new beginning with fresh faces.
And that is why people like Joe Wicks – or Team GB Olympians – will be crucial. For, if the public are to accept more responsibility for their own health, they’re far more likely to follow the example, and encouragement, of self-made public figures who they respect when it comes to exercise and diet rather than public officials telling them how to live. There’s a subtle difference and the Office for Health Promotion needs to recognise it.
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