The Government quango Natural England will today (Wed) launch what it calls its “Natural Health Service” in Yorkshire, a bid to combat the growing obesity scandal by persuading thousands of people to get off their backsides and go for long walks.
The agency says that nine out of ten people inn England will be overweight by the year 2050 so it is setting up a county-wide directory of walks or open spaces where people can go for a walk. GPs are being asked to tell patients where these are and encourage them to use them.
Health Walks already form an important part of Natural England’s health and access activities, with over 2,000 walks taking place every week and more than 37,000 volunteer walk leaders trained so far.
Natural England is looking to enable around 200,000 more people to take part in the Walking for Health initiative and is hoping to quadruple the number of people walking regularly for their health by the 2012 Olympics.
Launching the Yorkshire and Humber programme at Rotherham today (Wed), Peter Nottage, Natural England’s regional director, will say:“Today’s launch underlines the importance of outdoor activity to address the long term physical and mental health issues our region is facing.
“We have many wonderful green spaces and this natural health resource needs to be accessible to everyone. Prioritising the development of easily accessible green spaces and making outdoor activity a core part of health programmes could transform our nation’s as well our region’s health and save billions in expenditure on public healthcare.”