Legislation for Prevention
Cancer and obesity are at epidemic proportions – even though there are preventative measures we can all take. But, what role should the government have in this – should they legislate for prevention?
If so, what does a ’prevention based’ society look like? For starters, it would need a unilateral effort from all parts of society. All institutions would need to recognise and embrace their role in improving health. The choices people make about food and exercise are influenced by what they are exposed to in their place of work, schools and universities. Both healthy food and physical activity can be emphasised by employers and teachers – ultimately rubbing off on people’s attitudes.
But how could this be made to happen? How do we ensure that a preventative public health policy is enforced across all institutions? Do we legislate to enforce healthy living? Do we tell people that we know what’s best for them and that they must comply? This is an important political question.
Can you imagine a society with laws restricting the kind of food sold in schools and workplaces? Some would say “yes” to this question, but others will say it’s an infringement on our liberty! But, where lies our liberty currently?! School and hospital halls are filled with chocolate and fizzy drink dispensers! They are in our faces, and the alternatives are nowhere to be seen! Surely, freedom lies in being enabled to make informed choices – but people don’t know any better, and our environment is filled with food products that are a threat to our health!
What if physical activity was as much part of our culture as reading and writing? We could at least decide for ourselves whether or not we keep active. And, don’t kid yourself – people who fully understand the benefits of exercise, actually exercise! They are the ones you see jogging around the park, but unfortunately, you will see more obese people walking down the high street.
We need to rethink our ‘free’ society and ask ourselves how free we actually are. Our choices are consumer based, we are exposed to products that are bad for us and for the profits of corporations. We need enabling and given real choices. We need public health policy shaped to promote real health – then we can decide for ourselves. Funnily enough, we would mostly make healthy choices, as indicated by this study. Conclusion to this study – “The evidence presented here suggests that the current UK government approach designed to ‘enable and guide people’s choices’ may not be sufficient if low-income groups are to be effectively supported in changing their health behaviours.”