The Dryden Observer

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‘Lifestyle’ the new frontier of public health


There’s this thing that happens to you after age 35. Where once it seemed you were able to abuse your body with a measure of impunity, you suddenly find pants you could rely on for a decade tightening as your metabolism slows to a crawl.

That’s a real problem in modern Canada — a society stocked with families who have overbooked their lives. With both parents working full-time and spending half the evening shuttling kids around to sports and activities (many of us sipping out of a paper cup that’s half-filled with cream and sugar) — time constraints and stress lead to too many meals of convenience.

We have a strange disconnect in this society in that convenience foods, or anything for that matter served outside one’s own kitchen, seems universally built around the idea of luxuriousness, of treating yourself.

Try to name a single place in this town where a person can go for lunch and find something that a dietician might remotely approve of (although I must say Kano Reid seems to be ahead of the curve in this regard).

When we ‘treat ourselves’ more as a rule rather than the exception and fail to ‘punish’ ourselves to a commensurate degree for it (exercise), we as a society, see rising rates of obesity, hypertension and Type 2 Diabetes.

That’s where we’re at.

While once many cried foul over the public health system’s interventions into curbing tobacco use, hindsight seems to have judged the effort a great victory for a taxpayer-funded healthcare system.

Earlier this week Health Canada announced it was beginning to re-tool the Canada Food Guide to reflect the most up-to-date science and to be more relevant, understandable and personally customizable to Canadians.

Interestingly the Canadian Beverage Association has created a voluntary industry initiative to reduce Canadians’ caloric intake by liquid refreshment beverages by 20 per cent by 2025.

Lifestyle is the new frontier of public health and it will be a monumental holistic struggle. Helping people find a sense of healthy balance and moderation in their lives has been the elusive goal of everyone from the ancient Greek philosophers to Body Break’s Hal and Joanne McLeod.

In 3,000 years of trying to inspire discipline in inherently flawed creatures our culture and social institutions have never quite got the formula right.

They’ve never embraced the whole package, removing the barriers between health sciences, mental health and even elements of spirituality that might push them into

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