Agenda item

Director of Public Health Annual Report

To share the Director of Public Health Annual Report 2022 with the Health and Wellbeing Board. The focus of the 2022 report is health and sustainable food titled “A recipe for healthy and sustainable food”.



Matt Pearce (Director of Public Health) provided an overview of the DPH Annual Report for 2022. The focus of the report was on healthy and sustainable food and to highlight the key challenges facing the county with recommendations for actions that may want to be considered as part of the report. The principal points included:


1.     As part of the report, the Director of Public Health wants to celebrate the great things that are going on in Herefordshire in promoting healthy and sustainable food.

a.     For example, the Herefordshire Food Alliance (HFA) is a key partnership of stakeholders from the public, private and voluntary sectors to look at how this agenda can be driven forwards.

2.     Food and diet are associated with developing chronic diseases with cancer and diseases of the circulatory system (such as heart disease and stroke) the leading causes of premature deaths in Herefordshire.

3.     Herefordshire has a higher prevalence of child and adult obesity compared to the national average.

4.     In addition, the environmental impact is significant and having a healthy environment is beneficial to people’s health and lifestyles.

5.     A shift to plant-based diets, sustainable, seasonal and locally sourced foods and a reduction of food waste can greatly reduce carbon emissions from this sector.

a.     Farming is an essential part of rural life and of Herefordshire communities’ prosperity, with 77% of Herefordshire land farmed.

6.     In Herefordshire, more than a third of black bin rubbish is food waste and its packaging. From 2022, local analysis found that 70% of food thrown away in Herefordshire was considered avoidable.

7.     Food insecurity is another key challenge to healthy and sustainable food with multiple factors affecting national food security and the resilience of food supply chains.

a.     Price and affordability are major determinants of the food that people choose to purchase, particularly for people on low incomes.

8.     In Herefordshire, there has been a 100% increase in the use of food banks over the last 12 months, reflecting the impact that the cost of food has had on residents.

9.     The Director of Public Health noted the opportunities that exist to promote healthy and sustainable food across the course of one’s life.

10.  In some of the studies, it has been found that more work needs to be done to support the eating habits of young children.

11.  There is good work ongoing with Herefordshire Council participating in the national School Food Standards pilot with work being done in order to raise the quality of food being delivered in schools across the county.

12.  The Healthy Start programme provides food for women who are pregnant and children up to the age of four, who are eligible. In Herefordshire, only 61% of eligible families claim the Healthy Start food vouchers, meaning that annually £154,000 of funds are going unclaimed.

13.  The proportion of adults in Herefordshire meeting the recommended 5-a-day is higher (62.7%) than rates in West Midlands (52.6%) and England (55.4%). However, 40% of our populations is still not meeting current guidelines.

14.  Herefordshire has high employment rates in the food sector, which may well contribute to the high number of households in fuel/food poverty due to low wages.

15.  The food manufacturing and processing sector’s high employment concentration in Hereford is almost four times as concentrated as the national average and accounted for 43% of all employment for this sector in the Marches area (consisting of Herefordshire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin).

16.  Herefordshire’s Big Economic Plan includes reference to supporting sustainable food, with the 2050 plan including the ambition to transform land management and farming practices to support sustainable food production.

17.  There are a number of case studies which highlight the good work ongoing across the county, including Soil From the City and; Ross Community Garden.

18.  As part of the report, the Director of Public Health presented some of the recommendations he felt the board may wish to consider. The recommendations include:

a.     Work in partnership

b.     Deliver good food education

c.     Support healthy food for all

d.     Enable local food procurement

e.     Consider the effect food has on the environment

f.      Access healthy food where we grow, live and work

g.     Play your part

The Chair thanked the Director of Public Health and asked members for questions and comments on the report.


Councillor Diana Toynbee thanked the Director of Public Health and praised the focus on healthy and sustainable food, as set out in the report. Councillor Toynbee noted her particular interest in how Herefordshire could be a leader in food standards within schools, however, did raise concern about the need for more to be done in secondary schools, and the need to promote food voucher uptake among families.


David Mehaffey (Executive Director of Strategy and Integration) referenced Section 2.1 of the report that highlights that £6.5 billion is spent annually by the NHS on obesity-related diseases and that 31% of Herefordshire’s adult population which is obese, compared to the national average of 25%. David Mehaffey asked the Director of Public Health, therefore, if it was known what is being spent locally relative to the national expenditure in tackling obesity-related diseases.


The Director of Public Health accepted that this would be useful to quantify as a way of helping prevent obesity but suggested that it may be difficult to achieve and that the last time estimates were based upon local authority obesity were produced over ten years ago.


The recommendation was proposed, seconded, and approved unanimously.




a)    That the Board note the content of the report, and for board members to share with respective organisations and networks to consider the recommendations contained within.


Supporting documents: