Group-based diet and exercise programmes can lead to weight loss
The evidence is growing that group-based weight loss programmes can offer effective and acceptable options for overweight people, particularly men. On average, people in group dietary advice and exercise programmes lose 3.5kg more than non-participants by six months – a modest 4% weight loss overall but less than the 5% that is often regarded as clinically important.
In this systematic review on the group weight loss approach, participants in the 47 trials were adults from the general pop...
Vaccination likely to reduce influenza in healthy children
In healthy children aged two to 16, vaccines are likely to reduce laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza and may reduce the risk of influenza-like illness compared to placebo. Seven children need to receive the live vaccine to prevent one case of confirmed influenza. Twenty children need to be vaccinated to prevent one case of influenza-like illness.
This updated Cochrane review included 41 trials of either live attenuated (weakened) or inactivated influenza vaccines, with over 200,000 partici...
Sending patient reminders improves immunisation uptake
Contacting patients by telephone or mail about recommended immunisations leads to eight more people in every 100 being immunised. Text messages, postcards or automatic dialling techniques and recorded voices are the reminder methods that have the highest certainty of being effective.
In the UK over 90% of children currently receive the recommended immunisation programme, but this is still below optimal to prevent infection. The uptake of the influenza vaccination in over 65s is also below natio...
Swimming in seawater is linked with an increased chance of some illnesses
People who swim in seawater have almost double the odds of experiencingillness than people who avoid it. The specific illnesses linked to seawater exposure are ear and gastrointestinal illnesses, but the exact or absolute rates of infection are not available.
Many people enjoy coastal waters for sport and recreation, and it's important that they can access relevant risk information. This is the first systematic review to look at infection risk from swimming in seawater. It gathered data fro...
A school-based obesity prevention programme was ineffective
A school-based healthy lifestyle programme delivered to 6-7-year-old children and their parents made no difference to children’s weight, diet or activity levels. Around 1 in 4 remained overweight or obese.
The NIHR-funded year-long programme was delivered in 54 primary schools in one region of England. Teachers were trained to provide an additional 30 minutes of physical activity a day and deliver cookery workshops with parents each term. It also included activities with a local football ...
A third of health practitioners do not get vaccinated against flu
Flu vaccination uptake amongst healthcare workers in England is below the NHS target of 75%. Reasons may include mixed views on the vaccine’s effectiveness, side effects and belief they are unlikely to catch or transmit flu.
Surprisingly, practical barriers such as time and access to vaccination were not mentioned in this systematic review of qualitative studies for the Department of Health. Though it included mainly North American studies, the findings are consistent with issues raised i...
Free entry for leisure centres may increase physical activity across all social groups
Removing access fees from gyms and leisure centres with a strong marketing campaign and five extra community health trainers gave 26,400 more physical activity “swim and gym” visits per quarter in a borough of 150,000 people.
Re:fresh, a subsidised access scheme implemented in a socially disadvantaged local authority in England, Blackburn and Darwen, also found increases in monthly gym and swim activity from 3 to 15%, and overall levels of participation were more pronounced in disad...
Takeaways linked to increased cardiovascular risk factors and obesity in children
Children who eat takeaways once or more each week have more body fat and higher low-density lipoprotein (LDL) “bad” cholesterol levels than those who never or hardly ever eat them. Their diets were also higher in fat and lower in protein and calcium.
This cross-sectional study looked in depth at eating habits and risk markers for coronary heart disease, obesity and diabetes in 2,529 children in England. Though this type of study can only show an association between takeaways and ris...
Being overweight or having diabetes are both linked to cancer
For western high-income countries such as the UK, an estimated 15% to 16% of cancers could be avoided by preventing diabetes, obesity or excess weight (defined as a Body Mass Index [BMI] greater than 25). A high BMI was responsible for almost twice as many cancers as diabetes.
Around 5.6% of cancers globally in 2012 were attributable to diabetes or high BMI. Because obesity is increasing globally, this number may rise by 25% by 2035.
Although the links between high BMI, diabetes and cancer hav...
Self-testing kits increase overall HIV testing uptake in men who have sex with men
Frequency of HIV testing in men who have sex with men may be increased by one additional test in a six month period when self-testing kits are used. Self-testing kits allow people to collect their finger-prick or saliva sample, perform the test and interpret the result themselves.
This global study found that first-time testers made up around a tenth of all self-testers in high-income countries such as the US or UK, but about a third of those in resource-limited countries. About a third of self...