BEIJING (Reuters) - Public health in Beijing benefited greatly from the Olympics and the city's experience can act as a lesson for the development of a "health legacy" for future major sporting events, the WHO said on Tuesday. China spent an estimated $40 billion on hosting the Olympics in 2008, including many projects which had a direct benefit to public health like attempts to reduce Beijing's notorious air pollution.

A 191-page book "The Health Legacy of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games: Successes and Recommendations" was launched by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the city of Beijing on Tuesday detailing the impact.

"The Beijing Olympics experience showed that it is possible to advance a public health agenda by capitalizing on the attention generated by the Games among government agencies and the society at large," the WHO's China representative Dr Michael O'Leary said.

Improving medical services, better water services, attempts to restrict smoking and an increase in health awareness among "athletes, visitors and China's residents" were among the other benefits cited in the book.

(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney; Editing by John O'Brien)