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Cash rewards help people quit smoking, stark warning on mental health and how obese girls are falling behind at school

A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Wednesday 12 March.

Giving people small financial incentives helps them stop smoking and make other lifestyle changes to improve their health, The Independent reports this morning, as researchers found even as little £3 could make people 50% more likely to change their behaviour.

The Newcastle University team looked at evidence from 16 studies including over 30,000 participants who were set challenges such as quitting smoking in return for financial incentives.

Study author Dr Emma Giles said: ‘People who took part in these reward or penalty schemes were much more likely to adopt healthy behaviours, and if they continued they would have more chance of remaining healthy for longer.’

The BBC reports on growing concern in the mental health community about cuts in services. An open letter from The Mental Health Foundation, Rethink Mental Illness, Mind, the NHS Confederation Mental Health Network and the Centre for Mental Health and the Royal College of Psychiatrists has warned that pressure from NHS England to find 20% bigger efficiency savings in mental health than in other areas of the health service will put patients at risk.

Sean Duggan from the Centre for Mental Health said cuts in early intervention services for children were a ‘false economy’.

He told the BBC: ‘Early Intervention in Psychosis services are known to be highly effective in helping young people to negotiate their first episode of psychosis.’

‘They offer hope of a brighter future by helping young people to stay in education, to get and keep work, and to support their physical health,’ he added.

Finally, news from The Telegraph that girls who put on weight risk falling behind at school as new research shows those who are obese tend to be a grade behind their schoolmates - irrespective of their background or ability.

By contrast, the research found no link between obesity and achievement in boys.

Lead researcher Professor John Reilly, from the University of Strathclyde, said: ‘There is a striking difference between boys and girls and we know that girls are more sensitive to mental health problems, so we think mental health is probably playing a big role here.’

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