National Institute for Health and Care Excellence urges local authorities to do more to encourage walking and cycling.

Local authorities should do more to encourage active travel, says NICE

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence has issued a new report which urges local authorities to do more to encourage walking and cycling. Fatalities of cyclists – and, to a lesser extent, pedestrians – make the headlines but a sedentary lifestyle is the bigger killer, and the built environment often discourages active travel.

The new NICE report shows how local authorites can help their residents to avoid early death by tackling the causes of poor health.

Early death means dying before the age of 75. One in every three people who dies in England is aged under 75 – two-thirds of these deaths are avoidable. Many of the direct causes of death, such as heart disease and cancer, follow long periods of bad health which is often caused by lifestyle factors.

Drawing on a wealth of NICE public health guidance recommendations, from smoking cessation, to physical activity, to detecting chronic conditions like type 2 diabetes, the briefing supports local government in making changes needed to improve the health of local people, and saving lives.

Examples of effective actions highlighted in the new briefing include:

"Create, protect and manage safe spaces for physical activity and plan local facilities and services to ensure they are accessible on foot or by bicycle. This includes reviewing local bye laws that may discourage physical activity and using pricing and educational initiatives."

Professor Gillian Leng, Deputy Chief Executive at NICE said: “Taking early action to tackle issues such as smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and obesity could save about 103,000 people from dying early each year in England. This new briefing pulls together recommendations from a wide range of NICE guidance to help local government use effective practical ways to address the direct causes of illness and early death."

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