The Royal College of General Practitioners has added physical activity and lifestyle to its list of current clinical priorities.
Under its clinical priorities programme, the College picks certain areas to raise their profile and boost awareness both within general practice and across primary care, over a three-year period.
Those on the current list include: autism spectrum disorders; cancer; end of life care; liver disease; mental health; and perinatal mental health.
Explaining the addition of physical activity and lifestyle, the College noted that these factors are leading causes of conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity and liver disease, which, aside from their health consequences, place a massive strain on the healthcare system, costing billions of pounds a year.
These diseases could be prevented or better treated through addressing diet, physical inactivity, smoking, alcohol consumption and psychosocial factors, it stressed, promising support to GPs and their teams to help manage patients' physical health, and ultimately reduce long-term pressure on the health service.
"Despite one in six deaths being preventable by increasing physical activity, GPs often feel ill equipped, due to lack of training, time and incentives, to discuss physical activity levels with patients," explained Dr Zoe Williams, who alongside Dr Andrew Boyd, has been appointed joint Clinical Champion for the programme.
"I'm delighted to take up this role and over the next three years aim to influence general practice staff and patients alike to make improvements to their lifestyle, and in doing so reduce demand on primary care, and the wider NHS, at a time when workload pressures are overbearing."