| GEO Health|
Smoking in front of kids leads to premature death
| Updated at: 1203 PST, Sunday, September 05, 2010|
LONDON: Professor Steve Field, Chairman of the RCGP (Royal College of General Practitioners), representing 42,000 primary care physicians (GPs) says that parents who smoke in front of their kids and feed them junk foods are condemning a whole generation to a lifetime of heart disease, diabetes, and possibly even premature death.
Prof. Field urges parents to become aware of the impact their own personal behaviors have on their children. It is only by becoming healthy role models that their offspring can live long, healthy and fulfilling lives.
In a letter to the Sunday Observer, a UK weekly broadsheet newspaper, Field calls on parents, and adults in general to take more personal responsibility for their own lifestyle and health.
Parents who smoke in cars with small children as passengers are "committing a form of child abuse", he wrote. He adds that rising alcohol consumption, excessive sun exposure and the growing problem of obesity in pregnancy are undermining the future health prospects of a significant number of individuals.
Prof. Field said: “The truth, which may be unpalatable to some, is that too many of us, too often, neglect too many aspects of our own personal health behavior, and this is leading to increasing levels of ill-health and early death.
Public health is a sensitive subject. It's not easy to strike the right balance between protecting people's sensibilities and delivering the hard facts about their personal behaviours that are ultimately shortening their lives. Too many people do not face up to the hard facts, as they perceive them to be an attack aimed, in particular, at the poorer members of our society, when it is impossible to argue on medical or ethical grounds, that such behaviour is acceptable.
GPs are not spoilsports or merchants of doom and gloom. Everything we do is based on hard evidence and we genuinely want people to be able to live healthy, fulfilling and productive lives for as long as possible. But every day we are confronted with the sharp end of harm caused by smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and the tsunami of obesity.
People need long-term support in order to successfully change their lifestyles, Field acknowledged. GPs have a key role to play.
Prof. Field said: Every consultation is an opportunity to detect early warning signs that prevent illness and disease happening in the first place and to promote healthy lifestyles. This is what we do in every surgery, every day of the week.
Sensible, timely and appropriate interventions can help make people aware of the potential risks they are taking or the harm they may be doing and can change their behaviour or prevent extensive damage. Interestingly, short-term interventions seem to be just that and we find that the best and longest lasting effects are achieved through longer term actions and support.
Please don't take offence if we tell you to lose weight or stop smoking or drinking. You need to face facts and take responsibility but support is out there and together, we can help people live long, happy, fulfilling and healthy lives.
Professor Field also praises three initiatives in particular - 'Food Dudes' in Wolverhampton, the 'Big Bolton Health Check' and the StreetGames charity - where medical practitioners and members of the public are working together to create healthier lifestyles.