Write an essay on Issues Related to Smoking, Alcohol Consumption and Diet in UK?
It is a proven fact through research that smoking and alcohol consumption immensely affects the human body. There are many harmful effects caused by smoking and alcohol among which lungs cancer and kidney damage is prime. In recent years various studies has shown that United Kingdom is dawdling with three critical life style issues. These issues can be discussed under three primary life style habits, which include smoking, alcohol and diet. The main aim of this assignment is to provide a proper light and explanation on the current life style and health condition in United Kingdom considering the three aspects which are alcohol, diet and smoking (Kvaavik et al. 2010).
The factors that influence the health condition and status are said to be the determinants of health. Some of the factor that influences the health status can be broadly classified into various categories, which includes economical, societal, personal and environmental factors. Moreover, various other determinants like policy making, health services, biological and individual behavior influences the health condition and status of a particular nation (Stinghini et al. 2011).
It has been found that various factors related to the social affairs, environment and physical condition has a major role in influencing the social determinants of health. These factors affect heavily on the quality of life and health of an individual. Some of the examples of these social determinants are public safety, socio-economic condition, exposure to globalization and technologies, availability of education, availability of job etc. However, certain other factors like social standard, social norms and social attributes as discrimination also influences the social condition of a country (Scott and Happell, 2011). Several minor factors like residential segregation and exposure to violence and social disorder also determine the social condition of a particular country.
On the other hand, the environmental determinants like climate change, weather, toxic substance exposure and some aesthetic factors (like tree, electricity and lightning facility) also influences the health status. However, the condition of housing, neighbourhood, schools, office also influences the environmental and health status of a country heavily. These factors often correlate with the individual behavior of a person, which includes diet, alcohol and smoking addiction of a particular community (Dodd et al. 2010).
Adding to this, various type of biological and genetic factors like age, sex, HIV status also affect the mass population of a country in terms of the health condition. For example, old person are found to be more biologically prone to suffer reduced and pitiable health condition due to cognitive effects like aging.
Furthermore, it has been observed in UK community that various people are suffering due to health inequalities. This are considered as an unjust and an unethical difference in health condition that are seldom experienced by various population and communities within UK. It has been studied that people who are under-privileged and belonging from a lower strata of socio-economic background are more prone to chronic ill health (Hiscock et al. 2012). This people die earlier compare to the people residing in the higher strata of the society.
On the other hand, health equity is defined as the commitment to eliminate the discrimination and disparities of health related inequalities in the society. Moreover, the main purpose of the health equity is to strive for providing the best possible health standard for each and every people. It also focuses on giving special attention towards people who are at greater risk of poor health condition based on environmental, social and biological factors (Wallerstein and Duran, 2010).
The factors that affect the health and well-being of an individual are considered as the social determinants of the condition of health status. However, it should be remembered that this causes are not the direct and primary causes of illness, rather it can be considered as the reason for illness. Thus, it can be stated that smoking is the cause that can lead to various illness like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), coronary heart disease (CHD) and lung cancer. Moreover, social and environmental factors influence an individual and determine the health condition and health status of a particular population within a nation (Scarborough et al. 2011).
The Integrated Household survey (IHS) has shown a data, which confirms that 22 percent of men and 20 percent of female aged 18 or above has regular smoking habits. The people who are tagged as ‘major smokers’ are found to smoke at an average of 15 cigarettes per day. However, the ratio and numbers found to vary among various sections in the community depending on their age, gender, social status and ethnicity. Moreover, the survey report also reported that one third of the United Kingdom’s population between the age group of 20- 24 have been identified as regular smokers. However, the group of people between the age group of 60 and above is found to be infrequent smokers and their percentage is found to be 14% (McCartney et al. 2011).
In a survey conducted by London Health Inequalities Forecast, it was found that the prevalence of smoking varies immensely among different population within United Kingdom. This marked difference is found to be prevailed among people belonging from different socio-economic strata. It was reported that people who are living in deprived circumstances have found to have higher rates of smoking habits. It was also reported that this deprived people with lower socio-economic status have taken up smoking at an early age and they are less likely to quit smoking. Hence, this result in higher numbers of smoke related illness among this particular section of the population (Bell et al. 2010). The report also showed that 28 percent of people in manual occupation are reported to smoke regularly compared to the 13 percent of the adults in managerial and professional occupations.
However, various NGO’s and other related organizations are assisting people in United Kingdom and helping them to quit smoking. Various seminars and educational programs are conducted annually to educate people about the ill effects of this habit. Various legislation and policies has been put forward by the government to ban smoking in every enclosed public places. Healthy Lives, Healthy People: a Tobacco Control Plan for England was published in March 2011, whose main purpose was to reduce the number of tobacco usage in United Kingdom.
It was found that the consumption of alcohol has increased the rate of both acute consequences and chronic conditions among the population of United Kingdom. The acute consequences of alcohol consumption have increased the rate of road accidents and various type of assaults in the streets of UK. However, the chronic conditions like prevalence of cancer, heart disease, hypertension, liver damage have been reported to be very high due to higher rates of alcohol consumption in United Kingdom (Scarborough et al. 2011).
The Integrated Household survey has shown that the consumption of alcohol varies with different ethnic groups within United Kingdom. The data and research survey has shown that Whites and Hispanic people have the highest alcohol consumption rates. It was found that 18.2 percent of Whites, followed by 15.2 Hispanic population), 10.1 Blacks and 8.01 percent Asians have the alcohol consumption habits in their adolescence (12 – 17 years) age. However, the percentage of this statistics tends to get higher when age group of 18 – 24 years of population was surveyed. It was found that Whites have the highest alcohol consumption rates with a percentage of 77.3% and 70.9% respectively (Ronksley et al. 2011). However, the consumption rate in Hispanics, Blacks and Asians has found to be lower between the ages of 18 – 24 years. In another study, which was performed by IHS, it was found that, Whites, Hispanics and lesser number of Blacks and Asians have reported alcohol consumption at an early onset (before the age of 15). However, the rate of drinking onset was found to be very low in case of females from every ethnic groups of the society.
However, it was reported that the marked difference in socio-economic hierarchy was found to be a deciding factor in the amount of alcohol consumption in UK. It was reported that people who are living in deprived circumstances have found to have higher rates of drinking habits. Nevertheless, it was also reported that people enjoying the higher level in the socio economic pyramid of the society is reported to drink alcohol as a mark of their social status. However, the middle class people in UK was reported to consume alcohol in lesser amount compare to this former two groups of population (Rehm et al. 2010).
To improve the determinants the government needs to impose higher taxes on the alcohol and impose a ban on heavy marketing and advertisement of alcohol within UK. Moreover, the Non-governmental organizations need to conduct various educational seminars and programs to educate people and spread awareness among the mass population of United Kingdom.
The unhealthy diets and food habits among the population of United Kingdom has raised the number of obese patients. It has been found that majority of United Kingdom’s population is suffering from excessive weights and obesity. The United Kingdom ministry has announced that obesity is one of the most increasing health problems among the population of the country. An online survey carried out by the organization name UK-Cental shows that in the year of 2014, 27.7% of the UK population have gained weight and suffering from obesity. Moreover, 23.1% of people have reported to living in a life with overweight condition. Several other diseases are associated with obesity. High blood pressure, cardiac diseases and high blood sugar are one of the most prevalent diseases, which are related with obesity (Wang et al. 2011).
However, this data is common among the high people who belong in the higher socio-economic strata. They have money to eat their desired food and are more frequent to fast food centers, restaurants and stalls. However, the lower class people are deprived of any money and social status hence they suffer from malnutrition and deficiency. This is a classic example of the socio-economic condition of United Kingdom where people can easily distinguish a person and can understand from which socio-economic group he/she belongs (Scarborough et al. 2011.
In 2012, 21.1% of the population was suffering from overweight issues, which rose to 24.4% in 1998. In 2013, the amount rose to 25.6%. The more recent data published by the National Health Survey in 2014 shows that 10.8 percent of the entire United Kingdom residents aged between 18 to 69 are suffering from obesity. Among this population, the male population is 12.1 percent, and female population is 9.5 percent, if this data is further categorized into the ethnic group, then 24 percent of the obese population belongs to Black Africans, 16.9 percent belong to Whites, and 7.9 percent belongs to the Asians (Misra and Khurana, 2011).
The programs and seminars of United Kingdom are the most effective setting where people can be educated through awareness programs. Many companies and organizations have started Workplace Health Promotions (WHP) in collaboration with HPB. This collaboration helps to fund different training to staff, and conduct workplace health promotion programs. These grants of fund help to support the organizations to buy required equipment and build facilities or incentives that will motivate and encourage people to control obesity. Moreover, the Nongovernmental organizations and Government need to promote and fund this type of educational programs more.
Moreover, the UK Government needs to implement Beattie’s model to increase health promotion and awareness among the mass population of United Kingdom. Beattie’s model is an analytical and complex model. This model recognizes that the promotion for healthy lifestyle and behavior is implanted by applying good social and cultural practices. The Beattie's model is focused on different tactics and approaches towards promoting health awareness (Gortmaker, 2011).
Evaluating the data and information, it can be concluded that, United Kingdom is suffering from a unhealthy lifestyle and living habits. The country need to improve its standard of living so that it can sustain a healthy and prosperous future for its compatriots. Moreover, the non-governmental, non-profit organizations and the UK government need to work hand in hand to increase the awareness and start new legislations in order to reduce the unhealthy life styles in United Kingdom. However, it is tough but by making a proper plan and by collaborating with each other the work of promoting healthy life style in United Kingdom can be achieved in near future. It is an important aspect to make people aware about the consequences and harmful effects of smoking and alcohol consumption. In the younger generation the alcohol consumption and smoking rate is gradually increasing. This is not all a good sign for any country. To overcome this situation the Government of U.K. should implement proper steps needed in order to maintain the social and economic integrity of the country.
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