How to prevent the UK's major health problems?
More than one half of the over-15 UK population are overweight or obese, and surveys show that individuals do know when they are overweight, and do know that they should do something about it. It's not a lack of knowledge; it comes about because of the way we live. Our modern way of living, most of us in cities and towns, means that we walk less, travel more, sit more, eat more, and eat more unhealthy foods, the ones with lots of harmful fats but which are easy and convenient to prepare and eat.
Being overweight and having too little exercise leads to what some medical experts call 'metabolic syndrome', which leads to heart disease, diabetes, strokes; these health problems have become the new diseases of the affluent society. But why do we not seem to be able to do anything about it, in spite of all our knowledge and scientific and medical expertise? The new coalition government has recognised the need for an ambitious strategy to prevent ill-health and mentions plans to improve access to preventable healthcare in order to tackle health inequalities. Essentially, though, to be effective, the strategy will require an understanding of what is likely to change millions of individuals' behaviour in their daily lives, just as an advertising strategy for a consumer brand does. Any amount of coercion and information provision can be given, and be a waste of money. The gap between information and action is large; there are both practical and perceptual barriers to action. Thinking about this problem as a consumer marketer may be helpful. A new report from innoweaver points to what might be the answer and to the opportunities for front line medical services and pharmaceutical product companies to provide effective action that might emerge.
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