Professor Kevin Fenton
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Professor Kevin Fenton oversees PHE's national prevention programmes including screening for cancer and other conditions, health checks, national health marketing campaigns, public mental health, and a range of wellbeing programmes for infants, youth, adults and older adults .

Previously Kevin was director of the National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States, between 2005 and 2012. He also served as chief of CDC’s National Syphilis Elimination Effort and has worked in research, epidemiology, and the prevention of HIV and other STDs since 1995. Prior to that he was director of the Health Protection Agency’s HIV and STI Department.

Kevin is a Fellow of the Faculty of Public Health of the Royal Colleges of Physicians and a visiting professor in Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London. He also serves on the boards of a number of charitable organisations, government committees, and peer-reviewed journals related to sexual health.

He attended medical school in Jamaica, obtained a Master's in public health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, and a PhD in Infectious Disease Epidemiology at the University College London. He has also authored or co-authored more than 250 peer-reviewed scientific articles and policy reports.

Entries by Professor Kevin Fenton

Smile! Caring for Your Family's Teeth is Essential for Health and Wellbeing

(0) Comments | Posted 24 May 2016 | (23:15)

Nobody likes toothache, and for most people, the thought of having a tooth taken out by the dentist is enough to make them brush twice a day.

But there are lots of things that help improve oral health, including not smoking, watching how much you drink and eating a...

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Forget Fad Diets - Healthy Eating Must Be Part of Everyday Life

(3) Comments | Posted 20 March 2016 | (23:00)


From super foods to low-carb diets and juice cleanses, every week seems to bring a new health trend.

We're inundated with advice on what we should (or shouldn't) be eating in the newspapers and on TV, while a quick browse online reveals...

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Why It's Never Too Late to Quit Smoking

(1) Comments | Posted 8 March 2016 | (13:31)

We are in reach of a tobacco-free generation in England.

That might be hard to imagine, but fewer young people are smoking than ever before. From 2002 to 2014, the proportion of children aged 15 who have ever smoked reduced from 23% to just 7.5%.


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An Opportunity to Reduce How Much Alcohol You Drink

(0) Comments | Posted 27 January 2016 | (09:20)

The UK has recently revised the alcohol consumption guidelines, changing from a daily limit to a weekly one and advising that men and women should drink no more than 14 units per week.

14 units each week is equivalent to about six pints of ordinary strength beer...

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Just a Smoker's Cough? COPD Blights More Than One Million Lives

(0) Comments | Posted 13 January 2016 | (22:55)


It's surprising how few people know about chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). COPD is the name for a collection of debilitating lung diseases including chronic bronchitis and emphysema that get progressively worse. Smoking is the main preventable risk factor for COPD...

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Time for a New Year's Resolution - Let's Get Sugar Smart

(0) Comments | Posted 5 January 2016 | (20:43)

Do you know how much sugar you consume each day? I suspect the answer for most of us would be no - in fact there is a surprising amount of sugar in everyday food we eat.

We know biscuits, cakes and chocolates contain plenty of sugar, but some food we think of as healthy, like yoghurts, can actually contain a lot of sugar.

Soft drinks make up almost a third of the added sugar in the diets of 4- to 10-year-olds (40% in 11- to 18-year-olds), while just over a tenth comes from yoghurts, ice cream and other dairy desserts. A regular 30g serving of some breakfast cereals with milk can contain up to 12g sugar - that's almost half.

A new campaign was launched this week urging people to get smart about sugar. The Change4Life Sugar Smart campaign encourages families to learn more about how much sugar is in their food and drink, so they can take control over how much they consume.

The campaign also points out new government guidelines on the maximum amount of sugar we should consume daily - no more than 5% of daily calorie intake.

That's around 30g or 7 sugar cubes for everyone over 11-years-old; 24g or 6 cubes for 7- to 10-year-olds; and 19g or 5 cubes for 4- to 6-year-olds.

Why have the guidelines changed?
Back in July, the Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN), an independent expert body, recommended how much sugar there should be in a daily diet. The recommendation was part of the first wide-ranging look at the relationship between sugar consumption and health in the UK since the 1990s.

SACN examined the evidence on the relationship between sugars, starches and fibre, and health and concluded:

  • Too much sugar consumption is associated with a greater risk of dental caries
  • Having too many sugary-drinks is associated with increased risk of Type 2 diabetes
  • The amount of sugar consumed is proportional to calorie intake - the more sugar you consume, the more calories you take on and vice versa
  • Having sugary-drinks results in greater weight gain in children and teenagers and increases in their body mass index.

The sugars we refer to here are 'free sugars'. Free sugars are those that are added to food, or those naturally present in honey, syrups and unsweetened fruit juices. It does not include the sugars naturally present in whole fruit and vegetables or dairy products.


I'm sure most people will know that too much sugar is bad for health, but we still consume too much of it.

On average, adults more than double (12%) the recommendation, with children tripling it (15%). As SACN pointed out, the more sugar you consume, the more calories you take in.

Too many calories will lead to weight gain and obesity. Around a quarter of adults are obese, while a third of children leaving primary school are overweight or obese.

Obesity is the health issue of our time. It results in a greater risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, as well as some types of cancer. In her annual report, published at the end of last year, Chief Medical Officer Professor Dame Sally Davies called for obesity to be treated as a national threat.

Indeed, if left unchecked, obesity levels threaten not only the health and quality of life of the population, but also the sustainability of our national health service.

How do we get from recommendation to reality?
Given how far we exceed the recommendations currently, cutting down sugar intake to the new maximum recommendation of 5% will be a big challenge. So there is no better time to meet the challenge head on.

Swapping sugary drinks such as fizzy pop, juice drinks or energy drinks to water, lower-fat milks and diet or sugar free drinks can really help to reduce the amount of sugar being consumed by children and young people.

The Sugar Smart campaign and its free and easy to use app, have been designed to help families cut sugar consumption and make healthier choices.

With the Sugar Smart app, parents and children can use their smartphones to scan the barcodes of thousands of everyday food and drink products to find out how much sugar they contain.

The campaign is also giving away 5 million free Sugar Smart packs to primary age children and their families that explain the new guidelines, provide easy-to-follow hints and tips on how to eat less sugar and reveal how much sugar there is in everyday food and drink.

However, individual action is just part of the solution - government and industry also have key roles to play. Public Health England has published a review of possible measures to reduce sugar consumption, including controls on how high-sugar food and drink products are marketed and promoted, gradually reducing the sugar in foods and drinks, and the possible use of a tax.

This will help inform the government's child obesity strategy, expected this year.

Action to tackle obesity is required across not only health and social care, but also wider public services and society. Yet personal responsibility is also essential. Getting sugar smart is a great way to help you and your family lead healthier...

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Changing Your Relationship With Alcohol

(1) Comments | Posted 16 November 2015 | (21:38)

It's safe to say that most people understand and accept the dangers of smoking tobacco, and we are now much more aware of the dangers of eating too much sugar. What about alcohol?

It is commonly understood that drinking alcohol heavily and regularly can lead to serious harm...

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Every Minute Counts: Act FAST to Save Lives

(0) Comments | Posted 11 November 2015 | (10:28)

Philippa, 48, had a major stroke at home last year. Her 16-year-old daughter Beth had seen an Act FAST advert on TV and recognised the signs straight away, calling to her father to ring for an ambulance.

Philippa lost most of the movement in the left side...

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A Healthcare Nightmare Is Becoming Reality: What if Our Antibiotics No Longer Worked?

(2) Comments | Posted 9 November 2015 | (23:00)

Much of my working life is devoted to non-communicable diseases and conditions - the things you can't catch, like cancer, diabetes or high blood pressure.

But there are certain issues that no health professional in any field can ignore - they are just too important - and antibiotic resistance is...

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Prevention, Prevention, Prevention: What a Ground Breaking Study Means for Health in England

(0) Comments | Posted 29 October 2015 | (23:00)

In September, influential medical journal The Lancet published a study which helps us take a fresh look at the way people in England are affected by ill health.

We can now compare how different diseases (like cancer or heart disease) and risk factors (such as smoking or...

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E-cigarettes: What We Know

(6) Comments | Posted 13 October 2015 | (12:41)


Are e-cigarettes safe? Will they help me to quit smoking? Will they harm my kids or encourage them to smoke? These are important questions.

And because e-cigarettes have become popular so fast, from being virtually unheard of to 2.6million British users in...

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Stoptober Gives You the Support You Need to Quit

(0) Comments | Posted 25 September 2015 | (00:00)


While there is no such thing as a bad month for a smoker to quit, if you want to boost your chances of succeeding October is a great time of year to start.

The reason for this is Stoptober, Public...

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Four Facts That Might Change Your Views on Sugar

(18) Comments | Posted 20 July 2015 | (00:00)

As a public health professional I need to help change people's attitudes to sugar. Because if as a country we don't address our love of sweet food and drink, obesity levels will keep rising and the human and financial cost of ill health will also keep rising.

Let's start with...

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Stoptober: Why Involving Business Is Key

(0) Comments | Posted 2 October 2014 | (10:01)

Stoptober is under way: a national challenge to all smokers to quit and stay smoke-free for the month of October. It's the first step to stopping for good, because people who can get through the first tough weeks are far more likely to give up the habit permanently.


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We Need to do Better on Liver Disease

(0) Comments | Posted 28 July 2014 | (10:25)

In the gruesome Greek myth, Prometheus's liver is pecked out daily by an eagle, only to regenerate overnight. In the real world, the liver's capacity for self-repair is indeed an extraordinary feature, but there are limits. The topic of this blog is the harm and injury from which the liver...

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High Blood Pressure: Tackling the Silent Killer

(5) Comments | Posted 17 May 2014 | (00:00)

High blood pressure is often dubbed the silent killer because so many people don't know they have it and yet it can lead to a number of fatal conditions. If it's left untreated, high blood pressure increases the risks of having a stroke or heart disease. It affects...

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Bowel Cancer: What We Can Do

(0) Comments | Posted 10 April 2014 | (10:25)

April is bowel cancer awareness month. It's an opportunity to highlight the potential we have to save lives through prevention and early detection, as well as through swift access to the best possible treatment.

I'd like to focus on the first two aspects of prevention and detection, because I...

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Our Food Environment and Obesity

(2) Comments | Posted 16 March 2014 | (23:00)

What is the link between takeaway food and obesity? It's a tricky question to answer because the evidence on it is mixed. But a recent paper in the BMJ provides some important new insights.

This new study looked at the eating habits and the weight...

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A Healthy Heart for Life

(1) Comments | Posted 20 February 2014 | (23:00)

It's never too early to start looking after your heart. It's never too late, either. February marks national heart month, so it's a good time to reflect on what the research can tell us about how to stay "heart healthy".

Coronary heart disease (CHD) was the biggest...

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Obesity: Why We All Have a Role to Play

(0) Comments | Posted 13 January 2014 | (16:00)

Exercise more, eat (and drink) fewer calories. It's a simple message, but hard to do. In fact, the more we learn about obesity, the more we realise how complex the problem is and why hammering home this message on its own doesn't get you very far, if you're...

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