Improving the public's health

Our work to improve the public’s health recognises the complex nature of changing behaviour, and that this is often driven by social determinants of health rather than personal choice

In 2016

1 in 10

11-15 year olds reported having taken an illegal drug

1 in 5

children leave primary school obese

Smoking kills


people a year in the UK

Our areas of focus


We work with other influential health bodies, such as the Obesity Health Alliance (OHA), calling for measures such as the sugar tax and tighter regulations on junk food marketing to make it easier for people to make healthy food choices.

With childhood obesity a particularly pressing aspect of the problem, we also believe it is important that the voice of young people themselves is brought to the foreground in this debate, highlighting innovative solutions through our Child’s Obesity Strategy in collaboration with one of our Corporate Partners, Slimming World.

One of our recent reports, Size Matters, looked at the impact of upselling on the waistlines of the nation and estimated that this could contribute as much as five pounds to our weight over the course of a year.


We have established ourselves at the forefront of efforts to shift UK drug policy away from a traditional, criminal justice approach towards one based on harm reduction whereby those with a substance misuse issue are supported and treated rather than punished.

Our landmark drug policy report, Taking a New Line on Drugs, was published to widespread acclaim, and since then we have continued to push forward with the advocacy of practical harm reduction measures such as drug safety testing at festivals and night clubs and encouraging others within the health sector to support our harm reduction approach.

As an active member of the Alcohol Health Alliance (AHA), we continue to add our voice to those advocating for measures such as minimum unit pricing (MUP) and a lower drink drive limit to tackle alcohol harm in the UK.

In addition, our new report, Labelling the Point, provides a potentially potent lever to reduce alcohol misuse by highlighting its impact on health.


Improving the public’s health is not just a question of physical health – it is also one of mental health and wellbeing. Through our work on the Connect 5 training programme and upcoming policy work on the nature of resilience, we aim to ensure this vital area of health improvement is given parity of esteem with physical health.

The pioneering work of our Arts and Health Special Interest Group provides another avenue for supporting this agenda. We are also committed to ensuring less talked-about lifestyle behaviours that impact on the public’s health are not neglected – for instance, our recent collaboration with the University of Oxford to better understand the health benefits of sleep.

Our other strategic priorities

Health at every age

Our vision is to optimise health and wellbeing for all. This covers every age and stage, from giving every child the best start in life, through to providing critical support at key milestones such as the teenage years, ultimately enabling …

Protecting the public’s health

In addition to advances in health protection, the prevention and control of infectious diseases and other threats has provided the opportunity to optimise the public's health

Wider Public Health Workforce

With over 15 million workers including firefighters, hairdressers and postal workers, the wider workforce can support the public’s health in a variety of ways

Working internationally

We work on an international platform, connecting thousands of members from around the world and delivering policy and projects which stimulate global debate