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Ministers failing to tackle obesity and alcohol misuse

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The government must do more to improve public health services and has made only 'slow progress' on reducing alcohol misuse and obesity, according to a new report.

The joint report published today by the Healthcare Commission and Audit Commission assesses the impact that government policy has had on narrowing health inequalities, improving sexual and mental health, and reducing smoking, alcohol misuse and obesity.

It warns that the increasing rates of alcohol misuse and obesity will have an 'increasingly profound effect on public health and service delivery'.

'The steep rise in the number of people who are overweight and obese or suffering from alcohol related illness could reduce the impact on mortality rates of recent improvements in heart disease and cancer, plus increase rates of diabetes and hypertension'.

It found that the government's 2004 national strategy to tackle alcohol misuse was not accompanied by 'clear measurable objectives' which have meant that at a local level improvements have been 'inconsistent'.

Healthcare Commission chief executive Anna Walker said: 'The government should apply lessons learned from its most effective programmes to ensure that the problems of obesity and alcohol misuses do not derail health improvement in the future'.

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