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#GPnews: Welsh health secretary reaffirms commitment to free prescriptions

12:30 On the topic of obesity and poor eating habits, official analysis suggests three quarters of adults in England don’t follow Government advice to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day.

Least likely to meet the target are 16-24-year olds, although more than half of the younger teens did meet guidelines, the Telegraph reports.

NHS Digital data also showed that hospital admissions related to obesity had more than doubled in the last five years, and had increase by a fifth in just the last year to more than 525,000.

Overall rates of obesity had risen from 15% in 1993 to 27% in 2015.

11:00 The Welsh health secretary, Vaughan Gething, has hailed the 10-year anniversary of prescription charges being scrapped in Wales.

He said the 2007 decision was ‘a long-term investment to improve people’s health’, and that he was delighted that both Scotland and Northern Ireland later followed Wales’ ‘lead’ on the move.

He said: ‘We firmly believe by providing people with the medication they need helps to keep them well and out of hospital, thereby reducing the overall cost to the NHS. It should never be the case that people with serious chronic conditions can not afford to collect their prescription.

‘Ensuring patients have the medication they need not only improves their own health and wellbeing, it also benefits the health service as a whole by reducing hospital attendance and placing fewer demands on general practitioners.”

He concluded by suggested it is ‘socially irresponsible’ to ‘charge people with serious chronic conditions for the medication they need’.

‘Free prescriptions are progressive and an integral part of our health services in Wales.’

His comments come as NHS England announced this week that it would look at banning certain ‘low value’ items available over the counter in pharmacies and supermarkets in England in a bid to cut a potential £400m from prescribing budgets.

09:45 The Government has announced new guidelines on maximum sugar levels, as part of its strategy to cut the levels of obesity.

As several papers, including the Telegraph, report, this could see chocolate bars shrinking by 20% in the next three years to avoid having to reduce their sugar content.

Today’s Public Health England update calls on food manufacturers to reduce sugar by a fifth in foods including cereals, breakfast goods, yoghurts, biscuits, ice creams, sweet spreads and confectionery.

PHE’s guidance suggested reformulating chocolate bar recipes may be difficult and suggested they simply cut the size instead.

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