Health leaders back kids’ health initiative

Clinicians, public health professionals and digital experts have been taking part in Manchester’s Health X Hackathon to find ways to help improve the health of children.

The two-day event, run by Public Health England, comes as figures from its Change4Life Sugar Smart app and One You ‘How Are You’ quiz show huge public demand for digital tools that help them make healthier lifestyle choices.

Currently over a third of 10 and 11 year olds are overweight and just 21% of boys and 16% of girls meet the national recommended level of 60 minutes of physical activity each day.

Jeremy Hunt, health secretary, TV doctor Xand Van Tulleken, Manchester Digital Council, Tech North, Manchester NHS, Manchester City Council and Greater Manchester Academic Health Science Network have supported the event.

Jane Ellison, minister for public health, said: “We want to empower people to make informed and healthy choices. Technology now has a central role in most of our lives and we want to use the benefits it can offer to help children be healthier and happier. I am looking forward to the ideas that emerge from the PHE Health X Hackathon.”

Professor Kevin Fenton, executive director of health and wellbeing at Public Health England, said: “The popularity of our Sugar Smart app and ‘How Are You?’ online quiz show how much demand there is for digital solutions to public health issues. The internet is in the palm of most peoples’ hands, so there’s no better time for PHE to encourage innovative digital solutions. I look forward to seeing what ideas come out of the Health X Hackathon this year.”

Doctor Xand Van Tulleken, known for presenting Operation Ouch! and How to Lose Weight Well, said: “More and more children and families are risking grave long-term health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers due to being overweight and obese. We have to find new and creative ways to help address the problem. From using new wearable tech devices to developing apps and online tools, the possibilities from new technologies to encourage children to have a balanced diet and be more active are endless.”

Sheila Mitchell, director of marketing at Public Health England, said: “We’re really unleashing the power of digital in PHE campaigns. The Sugar Smart App has been a game changer in how people make decisions about what goes into the shopping basket. With some of Manchester’s best developers in the room, I’m hopeful we’ll soon be releasing new, evidenced based, and easy to use solutions to help people to live healthier lives.”


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