policy and guidance


Insall & Coe director Philip Insall has worked since 2000 with government departments, agencies such as Public Health England and many others, to develop policy and official guidance on physical activity and the environment, walking and cycling, obesity and other related public health areas.

He worked with Nike and the British Heart Foundation to establish and steer the All Party Commission on Physical Activity, whose report in 2014 helped to focus government attention on the scale and cost of the physical inactivity problem.

Philip has collaborated since 2006 with Foresight, part of the Government Office for Science.  Foresight gives evidence-based advice on policy issues over a 25 to 50 year time frame – critically important when so much government policy is driven by the electoral cycle. 

Philip and the Sustrans team contributed to the Foresight tackling obesities study from 2007, which framed the issue of obesity and brought before policy-makers the extreme social and economic impact if action were not taken.  It is still the masterwork on which obesity policy is based.

The Foresight future of cities  study considers a crucial policy issue – the UK, like most of the world, already has a predominantly urban population, and the proportion of urban dwellers is still increasing.  How can we maximise the potential health, environmental and economic advantages of this, and minimise the downsides?  

Philip has authored a discussion paper for this study addressing active travel in the city of the future.

Ageing is another policy area which demands longer-term and wiser policy consideration than a single government can offer.  Philip is engaged with Foresight to encourage debate and provoke consideration of policies to help older people remain healthy and contribute to society. 

Philip has worked with NICE since it took responsibility for public health guidance, sitting on NICE guidance development committees for physical activity and the environmentwalking and cycling, and obesity

NICE guidance in this area is excellent, and we look forward to assisting with the forthcoming guidance on air quality and other areas of public health where active travel is relevant.

Air pollution, most of which comes from motor transport, is a critical public health issue.  Particulate pollution  currently causes at least 29,000 premature deaths a year in the UK, with other pollutants, including oxides of nitrogen, almost doubling that figure.  The Committee on the Medical Effects of Air Pollution is expected to report in early 2016 a total toll as high as 60,000 deaths a year.

Among other projects, Philip was co-opted onto the Royal College of Physicians / Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health working party on air quality.  The royal colleges published their hard-hitting  report in February 2016.  We hope to continue supporting the royal colleges as this report encourages government to become more active on local air pollution.

He is also newly appointed to the Design Council Cabe panel of Built Environment Experts.