Now the government has released results from the Health Survey for England, which paints the most comprehensive picture yet of the country’s health.
Unfortunately, things aren’t looking good.
The survey outlines seven established factors deemed to raise the risk of ill health. These are:
- binge drinking
- low fruit and vegetable consumption
- high blood pressure
- raised cholesterol.
In England, a massive 93% of people have at least one of these risk factors and one third have three or more.
People in Britain are thought to have the most unhealthy lifestyles in Europe, fuelled by drinking and over-eating.
Now experts ask – why aren’t we looking after ourselves? Different experts have put forward a number of theories explaining Britain’s depleting health.
Dr Harry Rutter of the National Obesity Observatory blames congestion and pollution, arguing that traffic and dangerous roads prevent nervous commuters from cycling and confines children indoors.
He believes that by changing our environment, we can change our habits.
A great example of this theory working is in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen. For the last two decades, city authorities have been improving cycle routes and encouraging accessibility to encourage cycling. Now, over a third of residents cycle to work, school and University – making it the cycling capital of the world.
Other experts think socio-economic problems are to blame. Research suggests that poorer people are more likely to drink, smoke and over-eat.
However, alcohol abuse has been observed at record levels among wealthier people, suggesting that having an unhealthy lifestyle has little to do with economic status.
Professor Alan Maryon-Davis, a former president of the Faculty of Public Health, believes there is something more sinister and wide-scale at play.
He believes something has snapped in the public psyche that causes people to ‘gamble with their health.’ He said: “There may be a cultural reason. It could even be the NHS.”
The side-effect of free, full-time health care is that people start to take it for granted. They assume it will always be there to bail them out of health problems.
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