Sunday, March 10, 2013

The health of the nation

There are so many health stories in the media that it would simply be impossible to keep up with them on a a daily basis. Even using news aggregators and bookmarking all your favourite newspaper sites' health news pages, there's a mountain of health stories being published every single day.

One upshot of this is that many of us need to quickly select the stories that interest us and disregard the other 3 or 4 thousand articles available that day.

Sometimes this is actually easier than it seems - for instance there may be 150 articles about a new medical breakthrough, but little would be gained from reading every story on it. Usually, in fact, you can get the gist from scanning one broadsheet article, or a more detailed insight by reading and absorbing the same article in full.

But for the less health-centred reader - the general reader - what happens is that the headlines quite naturally grab the attention, and as such give the impression that things are a certain way. For instance, often you'd be forgiven for thinking that the UK isn't in a great state, healthwise - what with all the column inches on obesity and other health challenges.

It is of course true that the UK like many western nations has its problems with the prevalence of obesity. But on the whole it should also be remembered (and celebrated) that we've come a long way over the years in terms of life expectancy, infant mortality, and so on.

My suggestion would be that we have a yearly health of the nation survey based around 15 - 20 key measurement points, so that we get a more 360 degree view of the nation's health rather than being overly focussed on the negatives.

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