People in their 20s and 30s are brewing lifestyle-related chronic diseases – inews
Emotional eating, over-exercising, anabolic steroid misuse and other modern-day habits are brewing disease underneath the surface
Tuesday, 22nd October 2019, 10:00 am
As an NHS GP, I see anywhere between 30 and 40 patients per day in clinic. This is fairly typical for the majority of GPs working in the UK.
As generalists, we see everything from coughs and colds to complexly unwell patients. However, there is a rising number of chronic conditions that are causing a real public health concern and these are conditions secondary to our modern-day lifestyles.
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Every day after clinic I sit and reflect on the cases I’ve seen. It’s blatantly obvious that the rate at which many lifestyle-related chronic diseases are rising is very real and I have a sense of urgency to help prevent rather than prescribe pills when it can sometimes be too late.
The pressures people are facing today are massively impacting the way they think, feel, behave, work and live, which naturally is taking a toll on their health and wellbeing.
As we become more clouded by consumerism and are empowered by technology, basic needs like nutrition, physical activity levels, mental health, connection and sleep are all being compromised. Instead, we are becoming more dependent on sugar, pills, alcohol, drugs…the list goes on.
It’s all so doom and gloom right? A few years ago I recognised that many of my patients did want to make changes to their lifestyles, but often, they just didn’t know how. During healthcare provider consultations they had never been asked about their lifestyle habits in any meaningful way. They were young and otherwise fit and just surviving like the rest of their peers. They had bills to pay, families to feed, employers to impress, goals to achieve. When they felt well and looked well, what help would they ask for?
I take patients on ‘Lidl walks’ on my days off to show them how to eat healthily
Equally, it’s not the healthcare provider’s fault either. We don’t have time to go into their lifestyles as well as everything else in our 10-minute consultations. If they look and feel well, why would we go digging for potential problems?
Fundamentally, I became a doctor to help sick people in need, but I realised a few years ago that some conditions could be prevented and even be reversed. I didn’t just want to help sick people get better. I wanted to help well people stay well too. I realised that my primary role wasn’t just to treat a problem, but I had a role in educating and preventing problems developing in the first place if I could.
So when I was offered the opportunity to present a new BBC health series which was looking more deeply into people’s lifestyle habits and their impacts on long term health outcomes, I was excited. This is something I wouldn’t get to normally see and do in my day job.
In Laid Bare, airing on 24 October 2019 on BBC Scotland, I reviewed the cases of a range of very different individuals who, on the surface, presented as fairly healthy people, but it was only when we stripped back the layers of their lifestyles and reviewed their subsequent investigation results that we discovered their harrowing lifetime risks of developing serious health problems. Thankfully, with education and interventions, we were able to help these people address the triggers in a bid to reduce these risks and even prevent such diseases from developing.
From the adverse health effects of shift working to the role of ethnicity-specific health guidelines, we look at emotional eating, over-exercising, and anabolic steroid misuse amongst other modern-day habits that are brewing disease underneath the surface and that we are all able to relate to in one way or another.
Laid Bare. BBC One Scotland Thursday 24th October at 9pm. It will be available to view across the UK on BBC iplayer
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