chapter
6 Pages

Introduction

It is a strange paradox that the population of developed countries is living longer

than ever before and life expectancy, at least for the moment, continues to rise,

yet at the same time we are suffering from a serious range of health problems,

especially associated with diet, lack of exercise and poor mental health. This is a

result of our changing lifestyles, where most people are more sedentary than in

earlier times yet consume a similar or greater level of calories, where modern

living places different stresses on us as a result of changing family structures,

travel demands and work-life balances, for example. Obesity levels are increasing

and, with them, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, while depression, espe-

cially among young people, is being diagnosed more than ever before. In a recent

advertising campaign by the British Heart Foundation, a poster shows young

boys reclining on a sofa surrounded by soft drink bottles and confectionery

wrappers, with each one either talking on their mobile phone, watching television

or playing with a computer game. The caption beneath reads, ‘The early signs of

heart disease’. This image is both hard-hitting and accurate and shows how the

risks associated with this modern lifestyle are not just affecting adults or older

people but start with the young.