Wednesday, January 4, 2012

More than medicine: health and society

I had a column in yesterday's Canberra Times, 'Nurturing a healthy lifestyle is food for thought'.

I'm looking into new UK NHS recommendations for health professionals to be more involved in disease prevention: asking patients about their lifestyles, and not just patching them up.

I agree in principle, as long as they're given the chance to use their professional judgement - a one-sized-fits-all interrogation policy would be a disaster.

But doctors cannot remedy so-called 'lifestyle' illnesses alone.  It also requires a more egalitarian society.  A sample:
the continuation of socioeconomic ill-health points to the problem with any purely medical answer to obesity, heart disease, and other ''lifestyle'' disease: lifestyle is as economic and social as medical. My doctor's advice helped, in part, because my parents ate well, exercised regularly, could afford to pay for sporting lessons. All I needed was a kick in the backside to get started: my class provided the conditions. 
In other words, health cannot simply be handpassed to medical professionals - we cannot reasonably expect them to do it alone. To cultivate a healthier Australia, we need everyone to get a greater slice of the pie - metaphorically speaking
(Photo: Wikipedia)

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