Why it's hard to get healthy: Expert says society needs to change, not the individual
Dr. David Mowat says action from government needed
To eat better, exercise and stop smoking are all common advice when it comes to preventing chronic disease — but an expert in public health says society needs to take a closer look at why it's so difficult for individuals to follow that advice.
"We tend to concentrate on telling people to eat better and exercise more but we never stop to think about why is it as a society we are in fact increasingly getting obese, more likely to get diabetes, people are still smoking, eating poorly," said Dr. David Mowat, a Toronto-based public health physician who will be giving a talk at UPEI on Monday.
Mowat said it's how and where we live our lives that likely influences how well we eat and if we exercise enough, and said blaming children and families for eating junk food when they're constantly bombarded by advertising isn't the answer.
He said it's society that needs to change — which needs to be driven by government.
One example he gave is limiting fast food restaurants or advertising for junk food close to schools.
"The point is we're asking people to do things which in our society today are difficult. Why don't we change those underlying conditions with the use of policy."
P.E.I.'s deputy chief public health officer, Dr. David Sabapathy, and said investment needs to be made.
He also pointed to a report issued by his office looking at children and youth with difficult economic and social conditions.
"We found their outcomes with things such as obesity and food insecurity, asthma, mental illness were a lot worse than children that were better off and had better conditions."
Mowat will present his lecture on how to prevent chronic disease Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. at the UPEI Health Sciences Building.
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With files from Information Morning