This publication follows 2006 NICE guidance to tackle obesity, which gave advice to primary care on increasing physical activity in overweight patients.
Professor Mike Kelly, director of the NICE Public Health Excellence Centre, said that patients told to exercise more were happy to do so but found it difficult in their current environment.
He said that this new guidance would help ‘shape the environment to make it a healthier place to live’.
The independent advisory body that created the guidance concluded that pedestrians and cyclists should be given priority on the roads and that town planning should focus on people using active forms of transport.
Traffic calming, safer cycle routes and wider pathways are some of the measures suggested
Tim Stoner, who helped develop the guidance, is an architect and managing director of Space Syntax. He said it would have a ‘significant impact’ if it is taken up in local planning policy.
Professor Kelly pointed out that it would take time for interventions to have an effect on obesity and compared it with smoking and lung cancer. Despite studies in the 1950s unequivocally linking smoking with lung cancer, public smoking bans only came into force last year.
‘We are on a super tanker heading in the wrong direction. It’s going to take some time to turn it around.’
Dr David Haslam, GP and clinical director of the National Obesity Forum, said we are ‘swamped’ with reports based on ‘good intentions’ but without legislation, he does not know how things will change.
‘It just comes down to common sense that planners and designers create buildings that are activity friendly, with clean, inviting stairwells, cycle racks and showers.’
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