The public health responsibility deal

by Phil Chamberlain, External Relations Director, Youth Sport Trust

Here at the Youth Sport Trust we see day in day out the positive impact an active, healthy lifestyle has on young people’s lives.

We know that by taking part in physical activity, young people perform better in the classroom, develop their social skills and confidence, and of course improve their physical and mental health while building their physical literacy skills.

Yet, despite these proven benefits, we also know that building the ‘physical activity habit’ is immensely challenging.

In a society where we have a choice between a short drive or a longer walk, playing video games or playing sport, and grabbing a take away instead of cooking from scratch, it can take real effort, and feel like a bit of battle, to keep active and healthy.

This is why the Youth Sport Trust continue to support the Public Health Responsibility Deal, a Government initiative designed bring together government, businesses, charities and voluntary organisations to help improve the health of the nation and tackle key public health challenges, such as inactivity.

Launched in March 2011, the Responsibility Deal provides a frame work for business and other organisations to pledge their support to improving public health in four key areas: alcoholfoodhealth at work and physical activity. Organisations signing up to the Responsibility Deal commit to taking action voluntarily through their responsibilities as employers, as well as through their commercial actions and their community activities.

Pledges can be small scale, for example, to install bicycle racks outside the workplace to encourage cycling, or larger scale, such as a promise from a food company to reduce the amount of salt in all of its products.

The Youth Sport Trust has just renewed its pledges on physical activity and health at work and these can be viewed here.

Of course the Deal isn’t all encompassing and nor is it a silver bullet to solve all of our public health woes, but it does throw down the gauntlet to industry; challenging  it to prove that voluntary action “works” and can be more effective than Government legislation.

Whether regulation is introduced in the future remains to be seen, however in its present form, I believe the Deal provides a useful and accessible platform for those involved to not only share best practise, but to publically commit to building a more active, healthier nation: something that the Youth Sport Trust works tirelessly to achieve.