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People Must Take Responsibility for own Health

Matt Hancock The Health Secretary triggered a row after urging people to take greater responsibility for their own health to tackle the rising toll of illness from diseases such as cancer and obesity.

In a speech on Monday the health and social care secretary called for a big increase in people making healthier lifestyle choices, such as reducing the amount of alcohol and junk food they consume.

Speaking ahead of the speech Hancock said “We need to do far more to personally take responsibility for our own health.”

In his speech outlining plans for a major push to prevent ill health, Hancock will say: “Prevention is also about ensuring that people take greater responsibility for managing their own health. It’s about people choosing to look after themselves better, staying active and stopping smoking. Making better choices by limiting alcohol, sugar, salt and fat.”

Professionals criticise health secretary’s call for adoption of healthier lifestyles.

Simon Capewell, a professor of public health and policy at Liverpool University, said the minister was right to emphasise the need for effective prevention of epidemics such as obesity, diabetes and dementia.

But he added: “We must recognise the huge power of our lived environment and avoid naively just focusing on ‘personal responsibility’ and ‘individual choices’. People do not ‘choose’ obesity or diabetes or cancer. They have just been overwhelmed by a toxic environment.”

How to alleviate work stress

Earlier this year I was invited to Frankfurt to deliver a workshop on how to alleviate work stress at the 4th International Conference on Depression, Anxiety and Stress Management.

The research concluded that

Let’s take a look at some interesting findings

  • Image-conscious women spend more than twice as much money every year on looking good than they do on feeling good
  • Materialistic Britons believe having money is more important than enjoying good health or a happy family life
  • Women spend more years of their life in poor health than men
  • Brits spend more time on the loo than they do on exercise

Ageing well: how can we make longer lives healthier?

Public Health England October 2016 claimed the number of people living today aged 60 and over has doubled since 1980, and by 2050 we can expect to see the number of people aged 80 or more quadruple to 395 million.

Over four million (or 40 per cent) of people in the UK over the age of 65 have a limiting long-term health condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, respiratory disease, cancer, arthritis and dementia.

Many of these conditions are linked to lifestyle and modifiable behaviours and declines in mortality have not been matched by declines in morbidity with marked inequalities between the least deprived and the most deprived areas remaining.

It is never too late to make a change

Our experiences throughout life can have a negative or positive influence on health, affecting the risk of chronic disease and other health outcomes in later life.

Timely interventions during midlife and beyond offer great potential to increase wellbeing, maintain health in both body and mind and reduce the risk of losing independence.

Research evidence sets out key actions for professionals to promote a healthy lifestyle for people in midlife and beyond. These include:

  • Stopping smoking: it is never too late to stop smoking, and after the age of 35-40, a person loses three months of life expectancy for every year of continued smoking.
  • Being more active: research shows that physical activity in older age has multiple benefits, including reduced mortality, improvement of physical and mental capacities and enhanced social outcomes.
  • Reducing alcohol consumption: chronic conditions caused by alcohol misuse include liver cirrhosis, and evidence suggests that regular excessive drinking increases the risk of the most common forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia
  • Improving diet and maintaining a healthy weight: a healthy diet is key to staying well as people age, and there are a number of causes of malnutrition in older people including socio-economic hardship, a lack of knowledge about nutrition, disease and the use of medications and social isolation

These are times when people may consider adopting new healthy behaviours or may be at risk of adopting unhealthy ones.