Cold weather health warnings issued

With many parts of England forecast to receive stormy and cold weather this weekend, Public Health England (PHE) has this advice about how to cope.

PHE is urging people to think about what they can do to keep warm and well during the cold.

Dr Owen Landeg of Public Health England, said: “Before the cold weather sets in, it’s really important to think about what you can do to prepare and protect more vulnerable friends and family from the ill-effects of the cold.

“It is best to wear lots of thin layers, have plenty of warm food and drinks to stay warm, and check weather forecasts before heading out. Also, wear shoes with a good, slip-resistant grip to prevent any accidental falls.

“When indoors, stay warm, heat homes to at least 18°C, and keep up-to-date with the weather forecast – all of this is particularly important if anyone in the home is very young, 65 or over or has a long-term heart or lung condition, as they can feel the ill-effects of cold more than the rest of us.”

Rimrose Valley Park 3
Wrap up well in the cold, windy weather

To prepare for cold weather:

  • look out for friends and family who may be vulnerable to the cold, and ensure they have access to warm food and drinks and are managing to heat their homes adequately
  • try to maintain indoor temperatures to at least 18°C, particularly if you are not mobile, have a long-term illness or are 65 or over
  • stay tuned for weather forecasts, ensure you are stocked with food and medications in advance, have deliveries, or ask a friend to help
  • take weather into account when planning your activity over the following days
  • if eligible, seek entitlements and benefits – power and utility companies have schemes which make at-risk groups a priority for reconnection following power cuts
  • avoid exposing yourself to cold or icy outdoor conditions if you are at a higher risk of cold-related illness or falls
  • discuss with your friends and neighbours the need to clear snow and ice from in front of your house and public walkways nearby

Stay Well This Winter contains useful advice on staying warm this winter.

Teens who eat meals with family ‘have healthier diets’

NHS – Behind The Headlines

“Family meals really do improve teenagers’ diets and put them on a path to healthy eating in later life – even if home life is dysfunctional,” reports the Mail Online.

Researchers in the US used data from a 2011 survey of teenagers and young adults aged 14 to 24. They looked at how often they ate dinner with their family, how much fruit and vegetables they ate, how often they ate junk food or takeaways, and how often they drank sugar-sweetened soft drinks.

Previous research has found that family dinners are linked to a better diet. But researchers also know that well-functioning families are more likely to share family meals, which could explain or influence the link between family dinners and better diet.

So in this study, researchers also tried to assess measures of family functioning (such as communication, emotional connection and problem solving), to see if this had an influence.

The researchers found as expected, that young people tended to eat better diets if they shared more family dinners.

assorted variety of foods on plates on dining table

But this was the case for all families that ate together, whether or not they scored as a well-functioning family. The researchers concluded that family dinners were a good way to improve young people’s diets.

Where did the story come from?

The researchers who carried out the study came from the University of Guelph in Canada, Amhurst College, Harvard Medical School and Brown University in the US, and Loughborough University in the UK. It was funded by the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and published in the peer-reviewed medical journal JAMA Network Open, which is free to read online.

The Mail Online gave a reasonably accurate portrayal of the study, although it overstated some of the results. For example, it reported that boys “were far more likely than girls to eat mainly junk food if they hadn’t grown up with family dinners”. In fact, boys were likely to eat 0.1 junk food portions less each week if they had more frequent family dinners – or 1 less junk food portion every 10 weeks.

What kind of research was this?

This was a cross-sectional study using questionnaires to analyse the effects of family meals and family functioning on young people’s diets. Cross-sectional research can give you a snapshot of what is happening at one point in time, but it can’t show that one factor (such as family meals) directly causes another (such as diet). In this study, the role of a potential third factor, family functioning, was examined.

What did the research involve?

For this study, researchers used data from a 2011 survey of teenagers and young adults (aged 14 to 24), which looked at food intake, family meals and family functioning. The people surveyed were all children of nurses in the US who had taken part in a previous health study.

Food intake was assessed using a food frequency questionnaire. Researchers asked how often young people:

  • ate whole fruits (not juice) and vegetables
  • ate fast food
  • ate takeaway food

Young people were also asked how often they sat down to eat dinner with their family, from never to five times a week or more.

Family functioning was assessed using nine questions from a standard assessment scale, with scores from 1 to 4 (1 being a high functioning score and 4 being a dysfunctional score). An overall average score below 2.17 was used as a benchmark to indicate healthy functioning.

Researchers assessed the link between family dinner frequency and quality of young people’s diets. They then looked to see whether different levels of family functioning changed the effects of frequent family dinners on teenagers’ diets, taking into account young people’s age, father’s educational level and family structure (living with two parents or not).

What were the basic results?

Results were reported separately for girls and boys. For both, more frequent family dinners were linked to better diet. Specifically:

  • girls and boys ate more fruit and vegetables each day if they ate more family dinners
  • boys, but not girls, drank fewer sugar-sweetened soft drinks if they ate more family dinners
  • girls and boys ate less fast food if they had more family dinners, with more of an effect on boys (0.04 fewer fast food portions a week for girls (95% confidence interval (CI) -0.07 to -0.00) and 0.10 fewer fast food portions a week for boys (95% CI 0.15 to -0.04)
  • girls and boys ate less takeaway food if they had more family dinners (0.04 fewer takeaway food portions a week for girls (95% CI -0.07 to -0.01) and 0.06 for boys (95% CI -0.10 to -0.02))

There were no signs that family functioning made much of a difference to the results for boys or girls – results were very similar whether family functioning was included as a variable or not.

How did the researchers interpret the results?

The researchers said they had found that “frequent family dinners are significantly associated with improved dietary intakes among youths”.

They say that the results show “not only do families with lower levels of family functioning participate in frequent family meals, but that family dinners are associated with improved dietary intake, regardless of level of family functioning”.


The study adds to evidence that eating family meals may be a way to help improve diet quality, for teenagers and young people as well as for younger children and adults. This could be because other research suggests that meals prepared and cooked at home are likely to be nutritionally better quality than those from takeaways or fast food restaurants.

The finding that eating together is good for the diet even if the family has other problems is interesting. It suggests that even if teenagers are not communicating well with parents, the benefits of family meals on their diet can still be seen. However, there are some limitations to the study worth noting.

The study was carried out using data from one questionnaire, self-reported by the young people themselves. That means there is a possibility of inaccurate answers, and we can’t see how diet, family meal frequency and family functioning changed over time. That makes it harder to know if one factor causes or influences another.

The group studied were 90% white, which may limit the generalisability of the findings.

Perhaps more importantly, they were all children of registered nurses, which means they may be more likely to have grown up in households where healthy diets are thought important.

If the study results are true, however, they suggest that families with teenagers should be encouraged to eat evening meals together, to help them maintain a good-quality diet and learn good habits for the future.

Analysis by Bazian
Edited by NHS Website

Join the Alzheimer’s Society groups

Alzheimer’s Society Sefton has a number of places available in their popular groups.

To qualify for the groups, the criteria is:
* You must live in Sefton
* You must
have a dementia diagnosis
* You must live at home.

Anyone who would like to attend the groups listed below have to come through the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Support Team before attending as they are booking only.

The groups are:
Southport Singing, at the Salvation Army, twice a month on Monday afternoons.

Bootle Singing at Bootle Hub, twice a month on Monday afternoons.

Reading Southport at Salvation Army, twice a month on Tuesday afternoons.

Reading Aintree at Hope Centre, twice a month on Thursday afternoons.

Active and involved Bootle at Bootle Hub, once a month on Tuesday afternoons.

Active and involved Lydiate at Lydiate Village Centre, once a month on Wednesday afternoons.

For more details contact 01704 539967 or email and ask to speak to a Dementia Support Worker.

UPDATE: For those who attend the Bootle Singing for the Brain™ group, please note that the next one (Monday December 17) has had to be cancelled due to the venue having a new roof installed. The next session will take place on Monday January 7.


New Flicks & Friends film

The latest Flicks & Friends film has been receiving rave reviews. Directed by Bryan Singer, Bohemian Rhapsody stars Rami Malek as Queen’s lead singer, Freddie Mercury and follows the rise of the band.

Age Concern Crosby has been organising the Flicks & Friends series of films in conjunction with the Plaza Community Cinema for those aged 60 and over. Funding for the films has come from a Living Well Sefton community resilience grant and has grown in popularity over the months.

Bohemian Rhapsody is showing on Tuesday, 11 December at the Plaza in Waterloo. Admission is £1 with free refreshments. Doors open at 12.30pm and the film starts at 1pm.

All seats in the stalls can access hearing induction loop.

For more details contact Chris Dale of Age Concern Crosby on 0151 949 0152.Flicks and Friends Poster December 2018

Overwhelming public support for sugar and calorie reduction

A new survey from Public Health England (PHE) shows overwhelming public support for reducing sugar and calories in everyday foods.

The survey, carried out by Ipsos MORI, found around 9 in 10 people support the government working with the food industry (manufacturers, supermarkets and the eating out of home sector) to make everyday foods and drinks healthier. Helping the NHS was named as one of the main reasons for people supporting this work.

This applied to all sectors, and no concessions were made for food consumed in restaurants, coffee shops or cafes, despite this often being labelled as a ‘treat’.

These figures come as Duncan Selbie, chief executive of Public Health England, tells the food industry that next year PHE will highlight where progress has not been made on sugar reduction and that this may result in further action from the government.

Speaking at the recent Food Matters Live event in London, he called on every sector of the food industry, in particular out of home outlets, to step up and accelerate its efforts.

Sugar-cubes_brown_and_whiteThe survey explored the public’s perception of obesity, and PHE’s reduction programmes that have challenged the food industry to reduce sugar and calories by 20% in everyday foods such as breakfast cereals, yoghurts and pizzas, as well as ready meals.

Other notable findings from the survey include:

  • over 9 in 10 respondents think obesity is a problem in the UK, and 79% believe it has a negative impact on the NHS
  • only cancer (47% of respondents) and mental health (43%) are seen as bigger health concerns for the UK population than obesity (39%)
  • people believe the greatest responsibility for tackling obesity lies with individuals and families (90%), the food industry (80%) and the government (72%), underlining a belief in a collective responsibility
  • there was support from 87% of people to replace unhealthy products near supermarket tills and checkouts, with healthier ones

Duncan Selbie, chief executive at PHE, said: “Obesity is the pandemic of modern times. Customers are saying they want faster progress from the food industry and in particular, those businesses that have taken little or no action. We will be publicly reporting on these during 2019.”

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at PHE, said: “Severe obesity in 10 to 11-year-olds is at an all-time high. Plans to improve the nation’s diet are often described as ‘nanny state’ interference, but it’s clear people want healthier food and they expect the industry to play their full part in this.”

The survey also shows people expect the government to tackle obesity, with 60% believing it could do more. However, the survey was undertaken before the government published chapter 2 of its Childhood Obesity Plan.

In May 2018, PHE reported on progress against the first year sugar reduction ambition of 5%. This showed an overall 2% reduction in foods contributing the most sugar to children’s diets, with up to 6% reduced in some product categories.

Next year, PHE will publish further progress towards reaching the 20% sugar reduction ambition by 2020, as well as guidelines for industry to achieve the 20% reduction in calories by 2024.

Information to help rough sleepers this winter

Sefton Council has a range of services for rough sleepers throughout the borough which are available all year round.

Services, run by Light For Life, are at hand as we to try to reduce the number of people sleeping rough in Sefton, especially during the colder winter months.

This is especially important during the cold winter months between December 2018 and February 2019.

Light For Life’s winter shelter, which will open as weather conditions dictate, is offered at Southport Eco Centre  from 10pm to 7am with light refreshments and a warm, dry, safe environment for people to access.

As part of this service, outreach teams will proactively seek out rough sleepers and encourage them to access the night shelter.

If you are concerned about someone’s wellbeing, please direct them to the shelter or to the sit up services available all year round.

The help of the public is always appreciated and to report an incident of rough sleeping in Sefton call the Rough Sleeper Outreach Team via Light for Life on 01704 501256 or 07918 746042 outside normal office hours and weekends.

Alternatively, email and provide details of the location and any description of the person. We will acknowledge your email and give you a response to your report.

Sefton Council also commissions Sefton Supported Housing Group to provide a Homeless Sit Up service.

These services are available nightly. You can book in between 8pm to 9pm and it promises a safe, warm and caring environment where service users will be given a mat and sleeping bag.

There are also shower facilities and hot food & drinks until 8am the next morning.

Services are provided at BOSCO House, Merton Road, Bootle (0151 944 1818) or New Start, Leyland Road, Southport, (01704 547 741).

Veterans in Sefton have also been commissioned to provide support to people who are currently serving or who have served in the Armed Forces, both regular and reservists, their families and dependents, who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

ViS are based at The Brunswick Youth and Community Centre in Bootle. For any further information call 0151 257 6371 or attend the ‘NAAFI Break’, Wednesdays 10.30am – 12pm.

Better housing means better health and wellbeing, stress new WHO guidelines

The World Health Organisation (WHO) issued new guidelines this week highlighting that better homes invariably lead to better standards of health and overall wellbeing.

“Housing is becoming increasingly important to health in light of urban growth, ageing populations and climate change”, say the new guidelines.

Studies have shown that poor housing has implications for a wide range of health conditions, including respiratory, cardiovascular and infectious diseases such as asthma, tuberculosis, influenza and diarrhoea, as well as mental health.

Developed based on systematic reviews, the WHO Housing and Health Guidelines provide recommendations based on the health issues caused by inadequate living space, extreme indoor temperatures, injury hazards in the home, and the accessibility of housing for people with disabilities or who face other impairments.

In addition, the guidelines identify and summarize existing WHO recommendations related to housing, with respect to water quality, air quality, neighbourhood noise, asbestos, lead, tobacco smoke, and indoor radon emissions – a radioactive gas that is linked to cancer deaths.

Housing, health and climate change

The WHO guidelines also highlight the significant co-benefits of improving housing conditions. For example, installing efficient and safe thermal insulation can improve indoor temperatures that support health, while also lowering energy costs and reducing carbon emissions.

“Improved housing conditions can save lives, reduce disease, increase quality of life, reduce poverty, and help mitigate climate change,” highlighted WHO, noting also that these can contribute towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to health (Goal 3) and sustainable cities (Goal 11)

“Housing is therefore a major entry point” for “public health programmes and primary prevention,” it highlighted.

Seaforth new development com
Good housing can help towards good health and wellbeing

Grants to improve workplace wellbeing

Positive mental wellbeing is important for us all and this also applies to when people are at work.

According to Mind, the mental health charity, people can sometimes feel scared and confused about confronting the issue at work. However, it says that “at least one in six workers is experiencing common mental health problems, including anxiety and depression”.

While the Mental Health Foundation comments: “Good mental health at work and good management go hand in hand and there is strong evidence that workplaces with high levels of mental wellbeing are more productive. Addressing wellbeing at work increases productivity by as much as 12%.”

design desk display eyewear
Living Well Sefton has grants for workplace wellbeing

To help improve workers wellbeing, Living Well Sefton, in partnership with Sefton Public Health, is offering ‘Small to Medium Enterprises’ (SMEs) grants of up to £500. The businesses must have a workforce of no more than 250 people and applications from south Sefton are encouraged.

What we will consider funding

  • Staff costs including sessional staff – for example, towards workplace wellbeing activities such as yoga or mindfulness
  • Volunteer costs and costs associated with allowing staff to volunteer during work time
  • Equipment, for example bike racks to encourage active travel to work
  • Training courses which are focused on wellbeing
  • Events to support the wellbeing of staff
  • Refurbishment of facilities which are clearly demonstrated to contribute to the health and wellbeing of staff, for example decorating a break room or buying a table and chairs to encourage people to each lunch away from their desks.

What we will not fund

  • Core or ongoing running costs
  • Overhead allocations
  • Statutory responsibilities
  • Overseas travel expenses
  • Personal debts
  • Grants to individuals
  • Legal costs
  • Redundancy payments
  • Sole traders


  • Primary business activities must be in Sefton
  • More than 60% of employees must be Sefton residents
  • Priority will be given to those businesses who employ routine and manual workers
  • The applying organisation must not have been funded for a workplace wellbeing grant in the last 12 months for the same activity.

For more information and to apply please contact Living Well Sefton via or call 0300 323 0181.

For more details on Mind visit the website. And click here for the Mental Health Foundation.


Our bathing water wash away the competition

Whether you swim, paddle, or simply enjoy a stroll along Sefton’s beaches, you can be assured, once again, that the quality of the water is of a high standard.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published statistics that reveal that Formby, Southport and Ainsdale all boast clean bathing waters.

Formby beach has yet again been rated ‘Excellent’ – the highest, cleanest class – while Southport and Ainsdale beaches both retain ‘Good’ ratings for their water quality.

Green Sefton, Sefton Council’s dedicated eco-team, has been working tirelessly to maintain and improve the high standards of Sefton’s coastline, which has a direct positive effect on bathing water quality.

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Our thanks must go to the wonderful Green Sefton team, our beach clean volunteers and partners who work all year round to keep our bathing waters and beaches both clean and safe.

“We are delighted that our bathing beaches have once again been recognised by Defra and have repeatedly passed stringent water quality testing.

“For a number of years residents and visitors across Sefton have been encouraged to learn more about bathing waters and how they can play a major part in helping us improve the water quality in the borough.”

There are a number of ways you can help maintain, and improve, local bathing water standards, by taking action both at home and at the beach.

• Only flush the 3P’s down the toilet – poo, pee and paper. Everything else goes in the bin!

• Pour cooled kitchen fats in the bin, not down the sink.

• Pick up after your dog.

• Don’t feed birds at the beach and keep outdoor areas free of food waste.

• Always put litter in the bin or take it home if it’s full

For more information about Sefton’s beaches and coastal areas visit

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