Healthy body, healthy bank balance

17 September 2004
Doctors called for tax relief on sporting activities, in a bid to battle growing rates of obesity.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) has said exercise needs to be made more affordable and accessible for everyone in the UK.

The NHS already allows GPs to refer patients to gyms for a subsidised membership, but doctors feel more must be done.

Chairman of the RCGP Clinical Network, Dr Graham Archard, says: "We need to create an environment where everyone is able to balance their busy lifestyles with healthy eating and exercise."

He added: "Most people can't afford sports such as tennis at the moment, not when they cost as much as £5 a game."

At present, more than a fifth of people in Britain are obese and the number of obese children has tripled over the past 20 years.

The call comes as the government prepares to unveil its public health White paper on how it intends to halt rising obesity in adults and children.

Dr Archard suggests: "One idea might be to offer tax relief on exercise - after all, obese people are more likely to use more NHS resources than fit and healthy people."

Research from the Royal Bank of Scotland and Natwest revealed that nearly half of children spent more than three hours a day watching television or playing computer games and more than a third never play outside.
© DeHavilland Information Services plc