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Flint takes on role as ‘minister for fitness’

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The government has unveiled a new attempt to tackle obesity in the UK by appointing a ‘minister for fitness’.

Public health minister Caroline Flint has been tasked with improving the nation’s fitness and activity levels in the run-up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Flint said she will be working in partnership with a number of government departments, as well as delivery bodies such as Sport England, to “build on the good work that has already taken place”.

She added: “We will also look at further opportunities for physical activity across the board and consider the gaps and priorities. By taking the Small Change Big Difference approach, we will look at ways we can support the public to make minor changes that will make a long-term difference to their health.”

Speaking recently on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Flint said: “What is important is that people do recognise that there are some pretty small changes they can make in their lifestyle, in terms of physical activity, that can start making a big difference to their health. I think that that is important, because a lot of people think that they have to go to the gym five times a week and, if they can’t do that, they can’t do anything – and that is just not true.”

In a Department of Health statement, Flint said: "The biggest gains to health and to the economy will be made by encouraging more physical activity among groups of people who don't normally do any. We want to help people build physical activity into their daily routines.”

One approach, she said, might be to encourage more active travel – for example, walking rather than driving when it comes to shorter journeys.

Her appointment is timely; Department of Health figures, due out this week, are expected to show that adult obesity has risen by 38 per cent since 2003, with childhood obesity levels also on the rise.

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The government has unveiled a new attempt to tackle obesity in the UK by appointing a ‘minister for fitness’.
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