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A healthy debate for sport


Sport England has urged the sport sector to join the debate on public health and speak up about sport's role in improving the health of the nation.

The Government is consulting on its proposals to tackle lifestyle-driven health problems, which involve ring-fencing an annual budget of £4bn for public health to be invested at a local level.

There is strong evidence of the direct impact of sport and physical activity on health. Many studies have shown that physical activity and sport save, extend and improve the quality of lives. Increasing physical activity through sport also has the potential to save the taxpayer over £3bn a year in avoided healthcare costs. For example, the health gains associated with a 30-49-year-old who plays football once-a-week are valued at £27,600 over the lifetime of the individual.

Sport is also an efficient, as well as an effective, use of investment due to its broad appeal, and the low cost of its delivery.

However, in order for sport to feature in the Department of Health's (DH) public health plans, it needs to included in a new Outcomes Framework, which is out for consultation until 31 March 2011. Strong support from the sector will help ensure that a physical activity measure remains within the framework.

"Sport has a powerful case to make on public health," said Sport England's Chief Executive, Jennie Price. "But we really need as many organisations as possible, locally and nationally, to bring their perspective to this debate to ensure that sport's voice is heard."

The consultation document is on the DH website and is called Healthy Lives, Healthy People: transparency in outcomes, proposals for a public health outcomes framework