Britons ignore advice on eating well and cutting down on smoking

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The Independent Online
Adults are getting fatter and more teenagers are smoking despite the Government's attempts to encourage healthy eating, and intensive national and local campaigns to dissuade young smokers.

The second Health of the Nation progress report shows that despite improvements in some target areas, many people are proving resistant to advice to eat well, drink sensibly and forgo the attractions of nicotine.

The report shows that smoking among 11-15 year-olds has risen for the first time in five years and is now double the Health of the Nation target figure of 6 per cent for1994.

In 1986/87, 7 per cent of men were classified as obese, and 12 per cent of women. Currently 13 per cent of men and 16 per cent of women aged between 16-64 fit this category, increasing their risk of heart disease and stroke.

The number of men drinking more than the recommended amounts between 1990 and 1992 fell slightly, but rose in women. Both figures are much higher than the target figures for 2005.

The more positive findings show that suicides have dropped by 6 per cent, and targets for a reduction of deaths from accidents among young people are likely to be met by 2005. The target for incidence of gonorrhea, a sexually-transmitted disease which is used as a proxy for HIV and the uptake of safer sex, has been reached ahead of schedule.

Commenting on the report, Stephen Dorrell, the Secretary of State for Health, said the Health of the Nation initiative was a success, and more people were making informed choices about their health. The smoking figures were "disappointing", but he ruled out a ban on tobacco advertising to the dismay of anti-smoking groups.

They had hoped that Mr Dorrell's appointment would herald a weakening of the Government's stance on advertising, under pressure from leading doctors, scientists, and the tacit support for such a ban from the chief medical officer, Dr Kenneth Calman. Mr Dorrell said that the most effective way to tackle smoking was to raise prices, and the Government was committed to increase tobacco taxes by 3 per cent.

About 12 per cent of 11-15 year-olds - 10 per cent of boys and about 13 per cent of girls - were smoking in 1994.