According to the WWF, populations of vertebrate species — mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish — have declined by 52% over the last 40 years. In the same period, worldwide obesity has nearly doubled; around a quarter of the UK population is now obese, and it is estimated that 60% of men and 50% of women in England could be obese by 2050. Furthermore…
- In the UK nearly 850,000 children and young people aged between 5 and 16 currently have a mental illness.
- Diabetes caused 1.5 million deaths in 2012, up from 1.0 million deaths in 2000.
- 780 million people around the world lacked access to clean water in 2010, and almost 2.5 billion were without proper sanitation facilities.
- Global sea level rose by about 17 cm over the last century. The rate in the last decade, however, is nearly double that of the last century.
- Shell want to drill for oil in the Arctic.
There’s never been a better time to be outside the consensus…
We live in a world where certain kinds of illness are becoming increasingly mainstream; where the global climate is warming, and the rate of species extinction is higher than at any time since the loss of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago… Why is this happening, and what can we do about it?
Health is a subject normally consigned to discussions of body fat and sweet potato brownies… But what if health was about more than simply looking or feeling good? What if health was used instead to describe the totality of our relationship to life on planet Earth?… Because if illness is what kills us, then health is surely what keeps us strong; and we cannot be healthy without a planet to live on, without nutritious food to eat, without clean water to drink, and without other organisms and microorganisms to share it with.
Health is not currently considered a human right — it is regarded instead as a commodity to be allocated by the market, along with clothes and cars and other symbols of status — but what sort of action would be demanded of us if health was turned into a right? If health was not just a commodity to be afforded by the most affluent members of the middle class, but a right, a basic right which belonged to everyone, along with freedom, equality and the pursuit of happiness… What effect would it have on recipients of aid in sub-Saharan Africa, who remain forced to endure extreme poverty even after their lives are prolonged through “successful” pharmaceutical interventions; or on poorer citizens within even developed countries such as the UK, who despite access to free health-care are unable to afford nutritious food?
The health of individuals and populations is influenced by complex social and structural forces; addressing the roots of ill-health — including poverty, inequality, and environmental degradation — requires a broad-based agenda of social change.
Perhaps, in talking about health, we need a little less of this:
And a little more of this:
Mind the bollocks
This blog starts from the supposition that health is natural, that life is good, and that everything that gets in the way of these ideals should be fought against and swept aside… It will attempt to describe simple and evidence-based health interventions, within a broader social and ethical framework…
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