This is not because of poor air quality – it blows in fresh from the Atlantic on most days – or because of industrial pollution – there is next to none. It is because too many people inflict ill-health on themselves through lifestyle choices.
It appears that in just three years the number of Islanders who are prepared to describe their health as good has dropped nine per cent to 61 per cent. In addition, the number of people exercising sufficiently has decreased by five per cent in the same period.
However, to make matters worse, the number of smokers has not dropped in the past two years, binge drinking is rated as a major problem, and two-thirds of Islanders fail to eat the five portions of fruit or vegetables widely recommended as the ideal average daily intake.
The report concludes that the Island is sharing problems that are common elsewhere in western Europe. That said, it seems that we are in a league of our own when it comes to the consumption of alcohol, and although this might be no new state of affairs, it remains a serious cause for concern.
The important point to be made about this latest health bulletin is that although government and its agencies have roles to play in alerting the population to health problems and promoting healthy lifestyles, it is, in the end, up to individuals to make life-enhancing choices. You can, to adapt an old adage, take a man to a bike, but you can’t make him cycle.
The trouble with long-term practices such as smoking, drinking, bad eating habits and lack of exercise is that their effects creep up on people, so that the damage they do increases insidiously. But nowadays there is so much health information available that no one can possibly plead ignorance as an excuse for not mending their ways.
Clearly, last week’s survey results should be in the forefront of people’s minds when, in a few days’ time, thoughts turn to New Year’s resolutions.