Should we take individual responsibility for our health?

Matt Hancock sparked controversy on Monday by effectively placing the blame of NHS spending on people’s poor health choices.

He is urging people to take more responsibility for their own health in an effort to tackle health epidemics like obesity, dementia and diabetes.

But some people, like Simon Capwell, a professor of public health, have hit back saying that people do not choose to have obesity, dementia or diabetes – it is forced on them through our toxic environment.

Capwell went on to prove his point by championing public campaigns for health as opposed to “individual responsibility” by highlighting the drastic drop in the number of Britons who smoke. He placed the success of the campaign in the governments focus on tax and regulation as opposed to “individual responsibility” which he compares to victim blaming.

There is also hit back to the health minister’s speech regarding the strong association between unemployment, low income families and health. Many health scientists agree that there needs to be a control on junk food and cheap booze.

But there are now a record number of jobs available in the UK and Hancock feels its time people started taking responsibility for their own life choices before they clog up the NHS with a retinue of associated health problems.

Hancock believes the £8bn spent on disease prevention compared to the £97bn spent on treatment just didn’t stack up, and that we all need to take individual action in limiting our alcohol, sugar, fat and salt.

Life insurance promotes a healthier lifestyle

Being a non-smoker notoriously reduces your life insurance premiums but lately, being vegan could be added to that list.

A study in 2014 found that vegans had the healthiest weight amongst other diet groups like vegetarians, pescetarian and meat eaters. The study also found a link between the vegan diet and lower cholesterol and a reduction in life-style related disease.

There has been a wealth of further and prior studies that find positive associations between better overall health and veganism.

Following this, a company in America have already started rolling out Vegan life insurance policies that could see animal product forgoer’s savings a whopping £329 over non-vegan policy holders. This is following mounting evidence that a vegan diet reduces your risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity and dementia.

The units of alcohol you consume per week is also taken into consideration on a life insurance application. The lower that number, typically the lower your premiums will be.

If lifestyle choices cost you directly

With lifestyle choices like smoking and diet being incorporated into life insurance companies risk equations, there is more of a personal push to take “individual responsibility” for our own health.

If the cost affects us directly, it seems we are more encouraged to take action and limit our alcohol consumption, eat healthy and quit smoking – but when it comes to public spending, we don’t seem too motivated.

If your height, weight, smoker status, alcohol consumption levels and diet were used to calculate how much money the NHS were willing to spend in treating you, there might be a drastic change in attitude to personal health.

Perhaps, in that way, life insurance promotes a healthier outlook on our own personal life style, with the possibility of cheaper monthly payments fuelling better health choices.

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