Britain is facing a crisis.
Record rates of physical inactivity, obesity and chronic disease are gripping the nation. This has led to a reduced quality of life for many patients and paints a bleak picture for the future. Yet the medical response is a reactive one. We wait for patients to become ill and visit their G.P. or Emergency Department before we try to solve the problem with medicine and procedures.
We do not address the principal cause of the problem. Lifestyle. This is because healthcare professionals are not educated on how to help patients lead a healthy life.
The majority of medical schools do not dedicate any lesson time to the importance of lifestyle factors on health. There is also little or no dedicated time to teaching how to deliver lifestyle advice and how to initiate support for patients who need it. The majority of medical students and majority of doctors feel unable and inadequate to provide solid lifestyle advice. In recent years this has been recognised as both the Royal College of Physicians and Academy of Medical Royal Colleges have called for improved lifestyle advice education for clinicians.
Nationally, the statistics are shocking. 12.5 million people in the UK fail to achieve 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. One in three 11-year children are overweight or obese. There are currently 800,000 people in the UK who are morbidly obese, putting them at risk of sudden death, and the number of obese adults is predicted to reach 55% by 2050.
If current trends continue, more and more people will be affected by serious chronic disease, risking early death. Diabetes, cancers, stroke and heart disease are all associated with physical inactivity, obesity and lifestyle factors. However, by making simple changes to our day-to-day lives we can radically reduce this risk.
We cannot afford not to change. We are spending money we can ill afford in the current economic climate. The financial burden of physical inactivity, obesity and chronic disease is placing incredible strain on the NHS. Furthermore, decreased productivity and days lost from work are affecting the wider economy, at a time when we need a healthy, invigorated population.
Why is this happening?
Humans are evolved to be highly active and to consume natural, unrefined food. However, our lifestyles have changed radically. As a population, we are now largely sedentary and consume more refined food. Our lives are out of step with our genetic heritage resulting in obesity and chronic disease.
People don’t have the support they need to start becoming healthy
Healthcare professionals do an incredible job in challenging conditions. However, our training lacks emphasis on how to empower people to live healthy lives.
Our survey of students at six medical schools revealed a huge lack of lifestyle education in their curriculum, and other research projects looking at the extent of lifestyle advice education have also revealed a massive shortfall.
In short, undergraduate and postgraduate healthcare education significantly lacks training on lifestyle in health and disease, and how to work with patients to improve their lifestyles.
This results in professionals who are unable to help their patients stay healthy, and a healthcare system which focuses almost entirely on reactive measures and only intervenes when patients are already ill.
This isn’t good enough
Move Eat Treat is a movement aiming to make lifestyle a core theme in healthcare education. Equipping healthcare professionals to deliver effective lifestyle advice, and to maintain this with effective support and guidance will allow patients to live healthier, happier lives by avoiding illness in the first place.
To see Move Eat Treat’s goals, click HERE.
You can download the full infographics HERE. Please share them and spread the word about Move Eat Treat