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Call to ban sale of sweets from public buildings in health drive

THE sale of chips, sweets and carbonated drinks should be banned from public buildings, such as hospitals and leisure centres, according to a senior health official.

Dr Linda de Caestecker, the director of public health at NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, has also called for restrictions on alcohol sponsorship and advertising in public-sector premises, to improve the health of residents in Scotland's largest city.

Six out of ten adults in the health board's area were classed as overweight in 2003, while one in five was obese. The figures are expected to rise in the coming years.

In a report released yesterday, Dr de Caestecker highlighted the link between poverty and ill-health and called for more support to help people lead healthier lives.

She said: "We can't just place all the responsibility on individuals, as we know telling people to eat well, drink less and exercise more simply doesn't work.

"We need to make it easier for people to make these changes in their everyday lives. Where we live, how much we earn and the range of amenities in our local area all impact on our health and wellbeing."

Her report highlights the scale of problems relating to alcohol misuse and suggests tackling the problem through measures such as restricting the number of places where it is sold and encouraging GPs to ask patients about their drinking habits.

She also called for more action to reduce smoking and wants to see cigarettes removed from eye-level displays in shops. She urged the public and private sector to make it easier for people to become healthier by creating a healthy environment. Dr de Caestecker's report, A Call to Debate - a Call to Action,

came as Strathclyde Police, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde and Glasgow City Council joined forces to launch an action plan to tackle the area's alcohol problems.

The campaign aims to cut alcohol-related deaths and illness and tackle under-age binge-drinking.

In 2005-6, there were 6,136 hospital admissions in the health board area for alcohol- related issues, while the number of cases of liver cirrhosis in the area have almost doubled over the past ten years, the health board said.

The new policy will see alcohol screening rolled out in all hospitals and health centres to identify problems early on, while young people will be targeted to help them break the cycle of excess drinking.

Other measures include a programme for those who commit domestic violence and the development of an arrest-and-referral scheme directing offenders to specialist addiction services.

Sir Willie Rae, Chief Constable of Strathclyde Police, said: "This joint alcohol policy will see us strengthen our collective efforts and take fresh steps to tackle the scourge of alcohol abuse, which affects the very fabric of our community."

Jim Coleman, the deputy leader of Glasgow City Council, said: "We must act now to address our problems with alcohol, to improve the health of our people and protect Glasgow's image and reputation in the long term."

Source: Scotsman

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