DIY Health – Do It Yourself Health

Despite worldwide acknowledgement that overweight and obesity is a growing public health crisis, government efforts to develop a healthier environment are slow to come to fruition. However, we need not wait – we can each make changes that will benefit our health.

The government hopes to make healthy choices easier for us. The government may try to restrict the amount of sugar or calories we consume by levying taxes on some foods and drinks. The government may make changes to the built environment so that walking or cycling are safer and easier.

The problem is that such changes take time to plan and implement.

In the meanwhile many people continue along a relatively unhealthy path, choosing high calorie, nutrient-poor foods and a sedentary lifestyle – the convenient choices in our modern world.

Even when government plans are realised, each of us will still need to choose to embrace the changes on offer. For example, breakfast cereal may contain less sugar in future but if we tend to eat over-sized portions of cereal daily our overall calorie intake will remain high and weight loss may continue to prove difficult to achieve. Similarly, if we continue to jump into the car for all journeys, even when walking is quite safe, then changes to the built environment will not contribute to better health.

Now, and in the future, we must choose to make the healthier choices. Changes to food composition or the environment will make little difference if we do not change our habits.

When the food we eat helps us to meet our nutritional requirements we often feel so much better – we may have more energy and sleep may improve. When we choose to be more active, we often feel more energised, not more tired.

Decide now to make healthier choices. Choose healthy food. Be more active.

Future changes to food and the environment may further benefit our health, but we cannot wait for these changes before we start making healthier choices. Indeed, changes to food and the environment may not materialise or may not be what we expect.

Decide now to eat better, getting important nutrients from a variety of foods.

Decide now to be more active, simply by walking more or undertaking any number of other simple activities that may contribute to your fitness.

Decide now that you want to be healthier

Decide now and Do It Yourself.

Embrace #DIYHealth

Enjoy Good Food for Good Health

©SD Wheelock

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What do Public Health professionals do?

My interest in public health generally centres around the contribution that healthy food can make to the health of the population. It is important for us all to have access to good food or know how to make best use of the resources we have to maximise our intake of good food (full of nutrients).

However, I appreciate that the public health (PH) arena encompasses so much more than discussions about the food we eat, which makes the task of improving the health of the population a complex one.

Our health is influenced by income, gender, ethnic group, relationships with family and friends, and our environment. PH researchers look at the way people live and how healthy they are by gathering information about people and places and using the collected data to learn what might help us to live healthier, happier lives.

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PH researchers also investigate the factors that may help people to live their lives free from the burden of ill health. There are a number of inter-linked relationships between how and where people live and their health – for example, there is a gap between the health of rich people and poor people. PH researchers try to identify these factors and possible solutions.

PH professionals might design and test ways to improve health and reduce inequality, then share their work with politicians, policy makers and health professionals to try to influence health policy and practice. Then PH researchers might investigate various programmes and policies to see if they are actually improving public health. For example, some community programmes might be developed to help people get fit, lose weight, stop smoking, or enjoy more of life. We all want to feel better and might want to participate, but these programmes must be assessed to determine if they are effective and achieve the desired results.

Media reports can influence what people understand about health issues. PH professionals look at how people use information provided by the media to make decisions about issues such as vaccinations and flu.

The relationships people have, who they communicate with and how they communicate can all have important effects on their health. PH professionals talk to people about their lifestyles to learn how to develop ways to improve their emotional well-being and physical health.

Where we live can affect our health. Green-space, like parks, can be important – for example, as a healthy environment for children. Where we live can influence when we die. People from the poorest communities experience more ill-health and die at a younger age than those who live in the wealthiest parts of towns and cities. PH professionals work to understand the patterns of, and reasons for, such inequalities.

Will the children of today experience more or less health inequality as they get older? The shape of a child’s life and their health can be influenced by social factors such as family relationships, poverty, peers, schools and the media. PH researchers look for ways to help people live full and healthy lives, wherever they live.  

Social circumstances, including where people live and what they do, can influence how successfully a person ages and can influence a person’s health and well-being in older age. Most people have little control over the many things that create health inequalities throughout their lives, like the conditions they live in or whether there are sports facilities nearby. Inequalities are difficult to change at an individual level. PH researchers work with various stakeholders to identify the most effective ways to solve health problems at every stage of life.

The different settings and organisations that we are part of, including where we live, work and interact, can affect our health – from schools to workplaces, hospitals and prisons – public health professionals examine what impact these have on how people behave, their health and their well-being.

Information from http://www.imagesofpublichealth.co.uk

Good Food ~ Good Health: a reminder

Good Food~Good Health aims to promote good food as a route to good health and empower people to make good choices about food through nutrition education.

Nutrition education helps us to take responsibility for the choices we make about food everyday. When we make conscious, deliberate, thoughtful choices, mindful of the impact of those choices on not only our own health but the health of the people around us and the planet we live on we can make a difference.

Good food may take more effort, more time and more energy than we think we have available but each choice, each small change, each moment can add up to something bigger.

Take a small step every day. Choose good food for good health.

Inspired by Jen Gale at http://www.asustainablelife.co.uk