After a month of silence over the holidays, it feels like high time to resume blogging. This spring, I will continue to write about different aspects of food, lifestyle, and health. The plan is also to invite exciting guests, to author posts, or give interviews. So hopefully, there’s a lot of good stuff to come. And you are always welcome to contact me with questions and suggestions about things you think I should cover. Use the comment field!
Why is it so difficult to get people to change their eating and living habits when the benefits are apparent, both for individuals and society? That question has preoccupied me in my previous life as a university researcher and my current role as product and R&D manager. Even when our media floods with advice on eating and living and the interest in living healthy seems greater than ever, the development is going in the wrong direction. Juvenile obesity is on the rise, and an increasing proportion of the population is affected by lifestyle-related diseases such as type-2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The problem is global, and the future looks anything but bright.
In my view, it is unreasonable that an increasing part of society’s healthcare resources should be spent on dealing with conditions that we know how to avoid. The smarter solution must be to prevent people from getting sick. Technically, it’s pretty simple – it’s about eating more fiber and veggies, avoiding refined sugar, saturated fat, and excessive amounts of salt. And, of course, exercising at a reasonable level. But in reality, it has proved extremely difficult to permanently change people’s eating and living habits. The explanation is complex; it encompasses everything from our Stone Age brains’ reward system to the benefits of a changed lifestyle for most of us coming in the long run and not immediately. Perhaps the ongoing pandemic and the extreme demands it places on healthcare can be an alarm clock. I mean – it should be evident that we cannot continue to burden healthcare with “unnecessary” ailments. The pandemic has also become an example of how it is possible to create change and has shown that even relatively simple measures can significantly benefit. Just look at how drastically something as simple as washing our hands and staying home when we are sick has reduced the frequency of colds and winter vomiting (and probably also food poisoning due to poor hygiene). Something similar should be possible regarding how we protect ourselves against, for example, obesity and type-2 diabetes.
I have previously argued that the Swedish Public Health Agency should have continued media space even after the pandemic has released its grip. With the task of spreading knowledge and giving good advice on how to avoid our most common diseases. And there are more who are on the same track. Anders Åkesson, who has previously been a high-ranking regional politician, the Green Party’s national spokesperson on health care issues, and is a trained nurse, addresses an article in the newspaper Sydsvenskan on 4 January. Here he calls on the government to set aside SEK 1 billion to strengthen preventive healthcare work. He states, among other things, “that there is a strong consensus that investments in prevention can provide great benefits for the individual, the care system and society. Despite this, only a tiny part of healthcare resources is invested in preventive measures.” To us ordinary people, Anders Åkesson addresses the simple call to “live a little healthier”.
Give us more like that, I say!
And I will soon have a post about how society and companies could work together to make it a little easier. To live a