Many people seriously contemplate the meaning of life and this has raised such questions as: Are we Human Beings, or Human Doings? Many people are constantly doing - work, sports, social lives etc. Often the act of being is considered boring! It is something that you see frequently on social media "i'm bored".
In the midst of all of this is a question that I have contemplated myself in the past, we are the human race and life is becoming more and more of a race. A race to the finish line. I am often wondering why people are so desperate to cross that finish line first.
Ambition is not a bad thing, not in the slightest. Ambition to achieve an early death, however, is. Many contributors to an early death are avoidable and manageable, such as stress, obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking etc. These are still pretty common behaviours and the media today has begun discussing how around 90% of individuals with diabetes now have type 2 diabetes - a condition that is wholly avoidable through a healthy lifestyle, and reversible through lifestyle changes. The number of those with Type 2 Diabetes has soared by 60% in just the past 10 years and is predicted to put a considerable strain on the health system in the coming years. The current cost of Type 2 diabetes to the UK is £8.8bn. This is expected to increase to £16.9bn by 2035, unless some some drastic lifestyle changes occur in the population. As I'm Guernsey based I shall extrapolate down to estimate possible costs to Guernsey (I don't have the actual local figures and due to the way the health system is set-up, it'll be different, but using an overtly simplified extrapolation that Guernsey has approximately 1 person for every 1000 UK inhbitants the estimates could be a cost of £8m, rising to £16.9m. It is likely significantly less burden to the health system directly, but when incorporating the cost to islanders it is likely similar. The overall economic cost, including the loss of productivity, in the UK is estimated to be £23.7bn.
How Can I Avoid Type 2 Diabetes?
Type 2 diabetes is totally preventable through simple lifestyle changes. Eating more healthily (especially with the avoidance of high sugar food stuffs), losing weight, stopping smoking, increasing your physical activity (not necessarily through a gym, maybe a simple change as parking at a further carpark, walking to work, using the stairs rather than the lift, enjoying a coastal cliff walk etc), avoidance of excessive alcohol consumption. Stress reduction can also play a significant role in improving the insulin response.
Why Should I Care?
Diabetes has serious knock-on implications to one's health. It causes circulation issues resulting in an increased risk of heart attack and stroke. It can result in the loss of sensation in limbs due to starvation of the nerves (in some extreme cases this can lead to amputation of limbs). It can cause blindness (through a condition called diabetic retinopathy), and kidney problems. Poor management of the condition considerably exacerbates the risks of the above occurring.
Type 2 Diabetes Could Bankrupt the Health Services
Most people want value for money from their heath services.
As a species, through scientific advancement, we are living longer. Our bodies aren't built to last as long as they currently do, but through living sensibly we can live a long, healthy and fruitful life. By doing this we also increase that chances that, should we get ill during old age, we will have a health service that can support us; make us comfortable; and nurse us back to wellness. If we continue living exuberant and wasteful lifestyles then the advancements we have made will be undone. No longer will we be living long fruitful lives, but lives of misery and pain. Lives where we have to medicate ourselves each day to survive. As this happens the financial burden on the health services will become unsustainable and the cost to the end user will have to increase.
We have the opportunity to enjoy life. To eat responsibly. To drink responsibly. To exercise.
The occasional splurge is not a bad thing! Life is for living! Although use things as a treat. A couple of glasses of wine at the weekend is a treat that may well be deserved after a tough week. A bottle of wine a night cannot be classed as a treat - it is part of your daily consumables and is a crutch. Similarly with cake, chocolate, and other deliciously unhealthy foodstuffs. We do not NEED them to survive and they lose their treat value if we overindulge.
Make some simple changes, live a long, healthy, comfortable life, and save yourself the future expense of having to prop up a struggling healthcare system.
Sources and Further Information
I'm a doctor of psychology, born in Guernsey, educated at a tertiary level in Bristol, Bath, and London. Having worked and trained with some of the leading Health Psychologists in the UK, and having a passion about how Health Psychology can truly benefit many people, I now want to spread the word, as well as offer consultations to people wanting to make changes in their lives.