In previous research, The King’s Fund has shown that unhealthy behaviours cluster in the population. Around seven in ten adults do not follow guidelines on tobacco use, alcohol consumption, healthy diet or physical activity, yet most behaviour-change services address these behaviours separately, not reflecting the reality of people’s lives.
The King’s Fund’s latest report focuses on how some services are developing a response to the reality that most people experience risk factors in combination. Developing approaches to tackling multiple risk factors is crucial for three reasons:
These risk factors – poor diet, physical inactivity, excessive alcohol consumption and smoking – are linked to ill health and premature death. There is an inequalities aspect to multiple risk factors, where those in lower socio-demographic groups are more at risk.
Despite clear evidence of the prevalence and harm of combinations of risk factors, most of our tools for supporting behaviour change tend to be designed for tackling single risk factors.
In their report, we describe some local authority and NHS health and wellbeing services that are thinking about how the problem of multiple unhealthy risk factors can be addressed head on.
‘Tackling multiple unhealthy risk factors: Emerging lessons from practice’ shares learning and insight from services that are using innovative ways to address the problem of multiple unhealthy risk factors in their populations. It draws on interviews and information from eight case studies in local authorities and the NHS and updates the evidence base on tackling multiple unhealthy risk factors.
The report makes recommendations on how services can develop and share evidence, and for how the Department of Health and Social Care and Public Health England can support further innovation in such services.