Published: 04/03/2004, Volume II4, No. 5895 Page 24

The more I reflect on the new Wanless report, the more it seems to be a thundering, if diplomatically worded, indictment of the performance to date on public health of the government at large, the Department of Health, successive health secretaries, chief medical officers and other health leaders.

Disappointingly, it seems to suggest that individuals mainly need more information in order to lead healthier lives.Not enough attention is paid to the social and economic conditions that shape individuals' choices. But coming as it does at the height of a media scare about obesity and issuing from the Treasury this report could just tip the policy balance in favour of public health.

Anna Coote Public health programme director King's Fund