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It’s time for NBers to change lifestyles

November 6, 2011

N.B. Health Council says health-care system must focus more on preventing illness rather than treating it (

Shocker?  Doubt it.  New Brunswick is not the first to adopt this prevention-type of mentality; however, the question of how exactly to shift the focus from treating illness to preventing it is the question at hand.  Nonetheless, it goes without saying that this won’t happen overnight and will take lots of time and patience to achieve, although every individual could start today for a better tomorrow.  As mentioned before, although this statement comes from the New Brunswick Health Council, this is not the first time we hear the need for prevention in other parts of the country, continent, and the world.  Here’s what else they had to say:

  • Lifestyle accounts for 40 per cent of one’s overall health, socioeconomic situation another 40 per cent, environment 10 per cent and the health-care system 10 per cent.

Unfortunately, as stated in the article, roughly $3 billion dollars a year are spent on 10% of the influence (i.e. health-care system).  In order to move forward, this money should be allotted more towards ameliorating lifestyle and socioeconomic conditions of individuals and families.

It is suggested by the Public Health Agency of Canada that these problems could be attacked at three different levels:

  1. First is the individual level, the idea that if you teach someone what to do and make programs available to them, they can learn to live healthier lives.
  2. Next is community-level interventions.  “For example, a health region may initiate a program for getting people to engage in physical activity and healthy lifestyle choices,” Brawley says.
  3. Finally there is the government level, where policies are made to try to help people become healthier – increasing physical education minutes and health education in schools, for example.

The article also goes on to elaborate on the perceived difficulty of healthy eating and physical activity.  Obesity and inactivity rates in children (and adults, although the younger, the better when it comes to prevention!) should be things that we target immediately.  There should be awareness on the subject matter and we should do all that we can to invoke change.  Although, ultimately, at the end of the day, someone doesn’t want to do anything, it is difficult to get them to do something.  However, as mentioned previously, these changes won’t happen overnight.

The 6 stages of change involves precontemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, maintenance, and finally termination where the change is relatively stable and permanent.  These 6 stages require a great deal of time to implement and can be necessary for healthy and active lifestyles to be implemented and maintained.  As a society, we have the responsibility to increase HEALTHY life expectancy and not just life expectancy.  It’s the quality in your years that count and not the amount of years you may be living on life-support.  Focus should be on primary, secondary, and tertiary forms of prevention.

Overall, I am glad to see that there are more and more talks towards the evolution of physical and health education (and health in general) to move from a “crisis-oriented” approach to a preventive approach where the emphasis is on preventing chronic diseases as leading causes of mortality and morbidity.

Lastly, here’s my favorite quote of the article:

“Tommy Douglas said the purpose of medicare was to keep people well and not patch them up,” he says. “The vast majority of our expenditures are to patch people up.”


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