Introduction Healthis generally a complex and multifactorial issue and is influenced by severalaspects including employment, living conditions, age, education, and familyhistory. Various health-related and lifestyle habits can affect a person’shealth and wellbeing. Several major health and lifestyle issues are major inmodern societies. They include cardiovascular diseases, cancer, physical activity,diabetes, and obesity among others. These issues are increasingly becomingpopular today.
However, the increased popularity is not only caused by theirincreased occurrence but also by the progress made in medical science. This isbecause, with the progress, it has become easy to diagnose health issues. Thisreport features four topic reports that seek to expound on four major healthand lifestyle issues including cardiovascular disease, cancer, physicalactivity and obesity. Specifically, the topic reports will focus on thelifestyle behaviours that cause the issues, statistics that demonstrate theirprevalence, the risks associated with them, the national policies that focus onthe specific issues and the various interventions that have been implemented toinfluence lifestyle behaviours.
Cardiovasculardisease Cardiovasculardisease (CVD) stands as the largest cause of death in the world. CVD is not asingle health issue or disease but a cluster of them that harm or affect thehuman cardiovascular system. This includes the heart and blood vessels. Ideally,though not always, CVD affects people after their youth, typically and risingsharply in the years after the 30 and 44 age range (Lakka and Bouchard, 2005). However,it is assumed that people who end up getting forms of CVD, they alreadyidentify with the beginnings of the disease by the time they are 35 years old(Lakka and Bouchard, 2005). The collection of CVD issues include angina, deepvein thrombosis, peripheral arterial disease, congenital heart disease, aorticaneurysm, rheumatic heart disease, coronary heart disease and stroke amongother less common cardiovascular diseases like heart tumours, and brainvascular tumours (Dahlöf, 2010).
Most cardiovascular diseases share symptomsand, for this reason, without proper diagnosis, it may be difficult to identifythe specific disease an individual has (Scarborough et al., 2011). Some ofthese infections include chest tightness and pain, chest discomfort andpressure, pain, weakness, or numbness in one’s limbs if blood vessels in theseparts are narrowed, shortness of breath, fatigue, and light-headedness amongothers. Given that CVD is a collection of diseases, some symptoms are specificto specific diseases. For instance, the signs and symptoms of stroke includetrouble in speaking, understanding and walking and paralysis while the mainsymptom of heart attack or cardiac arrest is unresponsiveness and loss ofconsciousness (Daviglus et al., 2012). Atpresent, more than 17 million people around the world succumb to CVD everyyear.
In developed countries like the United Kingdom, the mortality rateassociated with CVD has dropped in the last decade following improvements madein treatment. The two major risk factors for CVD are diabetes and obesity, andthe increase in the prevalence of these risk factors is expected to directlytranslate to an increase in CVD cases (Daviglus et al., 2012).
In the UK, about26 percent of all deaths are as a result of CVD. This is about 160,000 yearlydeaths, an average of one death every three minutes or 435 deaths every day. Inaddition, about 7 million people in the UK are living with a form of CVD, anumber that is equally split across genders (3.5 million males and 3.5 millionfemales) (Nason, 2008). Further, the number is expected to increase further asa result of an ageing and growing population and better survival ratesresulting from improved treatment. Thereare several life risk factors that increase the possibility of developing CVD.
Theserisk factors include modifiable risk factors such as poor diet, cigarettesmoking and physical inactivity (Dahlöf, 2010). In fact, estimate indicatesthat about 20,000 deaths in the UK are caused by forms of CVD that can beattributed to smoking behaviour. In addition, about two out of five UK adultsdo not meet the recommended levels of daily physical activity, and more than three-quartersof UK adults and four-fifths of children take the recommended minimum portionsof vegetables and fruit every day. Other risk factors that are not related tolifestyle choices include air pollution, gender, age, ethnicity, and familyhistory. Lastly,several policies have been set out to address CVD.
In the UK, there are comprehensiveand stringent policies that seek to combat tobacco use. However, they have notprevented the increase in the percentage of smokers in the country. The UKgovernment has also been identified to engage in consultations regarding sugarreduction policies and the introduction of taxes on unhealthy food ornon-alcoholic beverages (Public Health England, 2017).
Combining theseinterventions in a set of comprehensive strategies may give rise to a moreefficient and effective approach. Cancer Bydefinition, cancer is a disease that is caused by the division of abnormalcells in an uncontrolled fashion in a specific part of the body. It can also bereferred to as a tumour or malignant growth that results from the uncontrolleddivision of cells (Frei, 2012). There are numerous types of cancers all ofwhich are caused by different aspects of lifestyle, and the environment (Knapton, 2015). The mostcommon types of cancer include breast cancer, prostate cancer, basal cellcancer, lung cancer, colon cancer, leukaemia, lymphoma, skin cancer, andmelanoma among others (Kandoth et al.
, 2013). Like CVD, symptoms associatedwith cancer vary widely and may even never occur at all (Brown, Winters?Stone, Lee and Schmitz, 2012). However, most cancerpatients have unexplained fevers abnormal bumps, unintentional weight loss, andnight sweats. Ideally,every individual has some level of risk of developing cancer. This is risk canbe affected by the environment, lifestyle, or a combination of genes (Parkin, Boydand Walker, 2011). In most cases, the exact reason an individual develops mostcancers is not often known. Behavioural risk factors for cancer include smokingand about one in every five cancer cases and one in every four cases are linkedto smoking. Smoking has been identified to increase the likelihood of manycancers including cancers of the throat, mouth, bowel, stomach, kidney,bladder, pancreas, and cervix among others (Kandoth et al.
, 2013). Otherlifestyle risk factors for cancer include drinking, air pollution, and sunexposure. Inthe UK, an estimated 2.5 million people live with cancer.
This number isforecasted to rise to about 4 million by the year 2030. By 2015, the number ofcancer patients in the UK increased by almost fifty percent since 2010.However, there have been cases of survival where patients survived more than fiveyears since they were diagnosed with cancer. Between 2010 and 2015 the numberof cancer survival cases increased by more than twenty-one percent. Estimationsindicate that cancer cases in the UK increase by 3% every year while survivalcases are expected to increase by a million every decade.
According to theOffice of National Statistics, in England and Wales, cancer stood as theleading cause of avoidable death. TheUK government has over the years sought to address the cancer challenge throughfunding of cancer research and providing an environment that supports theground-breaking discoveries in as far as cancer is concerned. Granted thatpeople have the right to smoke and live the lifestyles they desire, the UKgovernment finds it best to ensure that people are informed about the risksassociated with their behaviours. To control tobacco smoking, a risk factorthat has been identified to be a leading risk in many types of cancer, the UKgovernment has been committed to ban tobacco advertising, providing specialistNHS smoking services, and the formation of the Committee of Safety of Medicinesto offer oversight and information regarding the behaviour (Cancer Research UK,2014). Additionally, several interventions have been put in place to see to itthat cancer is prevented or controlled. For instance, Nicotine ReplacementTherapy was made available from general practitioners on prescription.
Further,a new treatment called Zyban was devised and has been available on prescription(Cancer Research UK, 2014). Lastly, a media campaign against smoking was runand was followed by an NHS smokers helpline (Cancer Research UK, 2014). Theseinterventions sought to address smoking and act as a foundation to propelefforts geared at addressing the cancer challenge. Physicalactivity Physicalactivity is arguably the most basic human function. Humans have over the yearsdeveloped to complex organisms capable of carrying out various physical activitiessometimes simultaneously. However, the 21st century has seen adecline in physical activities, and people have begun to ignore theirimportance in overall health and well-being of a person.
This has been mostly dueto the fact that food and most amenities are easily accessible, a developmentthat has caused a significant increase obesity prevalence around the world. Unlikethe other topics, physical exercise is an element of lifestyle and involveswalking, cycling, active play, gardening, dancing, work-related activity, engagingin competitive sport and active recreation like gym (O’Donovan et al., 2010). Physicalactivity engaged in a regular manner has been identified to reduce the risk ofseveral chronic conditions including CVD, cancer, diabetes, and obesity as wellas musculoskeletal conditions. Rhodes (2017), claims that regular physicalexercise stands as an effective primary and secondary preventive strategyagainst chronic of adults meet therecommended guidelines for physical activity. However, the prevalence isslightly higher for men compared to women and considerably lower for olderadults and youth in higher income nations (Powell, Paluch and Blair, 2011).
Accordingto the results of the 2014/15 Active People Survey, 36% people above the age of16 engaged in sports at least once every week with more than half of themengaging in three or more occasions. Self-reporting statistics indicate that66% of men in England met the recommended levels while 56% of women claimed tomeet them (Sustrans, n.d). However, self-reporting statistics are sometimes suspect and maybe lower in reality (Sustrans,n.
d). Ideally,no action is safe from risks and thus, even physical activity, a health issuethat seeks to reduce most health risks, identifies with certain levels of risk.Intense physical activity increases the risk of sudden cardiac arrest death bya factor of five for physically fit individuals and a factor of 56 for theirunfit counterparts (O’Donovan et al., 2010). In addition, physical activityexposes one to the risk of injury, particularly to the knees, feet, and ankleswhen engaging in vigorous sports. Physical activity also exposes one to therisk of “exercise addiction.
” With ‘exercise addiction, people become hooked tophysical activity to the detriment of other aspect like relationships and work. Thereare very few government policies on physical activity if any. However, there hasbeen a wide range of interventions that have been implemented to changelifestyle behaviours towards more physical activity for all. Theseinterventions have been on several levels including population level, communitylevel, and family and individual level (Public Health England, n.d). With populationlevels, health boards have bee noted to include physical activity in their JSNA(Joint Strategic Needs Assessment) while the physical activity needs have beenconsidered in the workforce (PublicHealth England, n.
d). To do so, the training andeducation needs of workers have been considered in an effort to deliver high-qualityphysical activity interventions and advice. On the community level, localinitiatives bent to ‘Making Every Contact Count’ have included physicalactivity, and community health professionals have been advised to develop linkswith the providers of NHS Health Check in the locals (Public Health England, n.d). ObesityObesity is a health condition where excess body fat has accumulatedto the extent that it has a negative effect on the individual’s health. Generally,a person is considered obese when his or her body mass index (BMI) is 30 kg/m2 (Waumsley, Atter, Boyle andBuckroyd, 2011).
Individuals whose BMI sits between 25 and 30 kg/m2are considered overweight. The main symptoms associated with obesity is excessivebody fat, breathing disorders, high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Itoccurs when an individual consumes more calories than it is able to burn.Previously, it was merely caused by under-exercising, and overeating, all ofwhich result from lack of self-control and willpower. Doctors view obesity as acomplex health issue which involves among other factors, social, behavioural,environmental and genetic factors (Waumsley et al.
, 2011). Obesity as a healthissue is already considered a modern epidemic and its prevalence is very high. Inthe United Kingdom alone, approximately one in four adults is obese and morethan half of the adult population is overweight (Wang et al., 2011). Accordingto a WHO 2014 study, about 28.1% of adults in the UK identified as clinicallyobese while 62% of the adults were overweight. This was a considerable increasecompared to the two previous decades where about 53% identified as overweight(Wijnhoven et al.
, 2014). Obesity also affects children, and according to theHealth Survey of England, 17% of children were identified as obese while 14%more were classified as overweight. Several risks are associated with obesity as a healthissue. An obese person risks the development of other life-threatening diseasesand complications. These risks include risk for breathing disorders likechronic obstructive pulmonary, the risk of developing certain types of cancerssuch as breast and uterine cancer for women and prostate and bowel cancer fortheir male counterpart. Additional risks include the risk of heart diseases,diabetes, depression, joint disease, gastroesophageal reflux and liver orgallbladder disease among others. Granted that obesity is majorly caused by individualchoices, government policies on the issue can be difficult to implement sincethey may be seen to interfere with the people’s power of choice.
In an effortto help people make better choices by improving labelling of drinks and foods, thegovernment passed a policy to set up a consistent system of labelling ediblesthat combine red, green, amber colour-coding and visible nutritionalinformation to indicate the amount of salt, sugar, saturated fat, calories andfat are in the products (Department of Health, 2013). In addition, thegovernment of UK has been party to implementing several interventions. Seekingto help people make better choices, the government, through the department ofhealth, gives people advice on physical activity and healthy diets through itsChange4Life programme and encouraging businesses to include dietary informationon their menus (Department of Health, 2015).Insummary, health and lifestyle issues stand as public health problems and aremostly brought about by an imbalance between dietary intake, physical exerciseand the environment to which individuals are exposed. They are also caused bythe behavioural and social aspect that affect health including poor diets, anddrug taking. Health and lifestyle issues such as CVD, cancer, physicalactivity, and obesity form a collection of some of the most prevalent diseasesin the United Kingdom and the world at large. Controlling the prevalence hasproven to be a difficult task since it involves interfering with people’s rightand freedom to choose. It is, however, commendable that the government is,through the Department of Health, engaging in interventions that seek to ensurethat people make the right choices that do not put them at risk for diseasesand infections.