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Taking steps towards responsibility in the Health Service

A study from Edinburgh Napier University has found that 70 per cent of nurses in Scotland are overweight. Edinburgh Napier’s School of Health & Social Care has ‘prescribed’ pedometers to its students, in the hope of preventing them from joining the overweight contingent. It is one of the largest institutions providing nursing and midwifery education in Scotland.

At the forefront of the health service, 650 of the newly enrolled student nurses and midwives will be provided with pedometers, as an incentive for increasing activity levels and losing weight.

This is a vital intervention after the World Health Organisation predicted that by 2030, 74 per cent of men and 64 per cent of women will be overweight. The data among students at Napier University is almost an exact reflection of the physical health of the rest of the UK.

There appears to be no better place to start than by improving the health of those who may set an example to the general public.

The benefits of regular activity on both physical and mental well-being are well known, and achieving 150 minutes of exercise a week is actively encouraged, particularly by those employed within the health service.

In Dorset, doctors have even also started writing prescriptions for outdoor activities such as walking, gardening, and sailing. Last year, however, current Chief Executive of the NHS, Simon Stevens, claimed that 1.3 million NHS staff were overweight or obese.

Additionally a recent survey conducted by Ipsos Mori found that 37 per cent of people “would not accept health advice from a health professional who appeared to have an unhealthy lifestyle e.g. smoked/was obese”. 

This seems to highlight the fact that those employed in the healthcare sector have an additional responsibility to not only deliver a positive health message, but also exemplify the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle.

In Scotland, two of the leading causes of death are type two diabetes and colon cancer. Yet it has been medically proven that the risk of developing either can be reduced by up to 50 per cent if regular exercise is carried out; promoted by things such as reaching your 10,000-step-a-day quota. 

In response to Edinburgh Napier’s approach to promote weight loss and healthier living among its students, educator Ailsa Sharp said: “I am acutely aware that nurses aren’t able to care for others if they don’t first look after themselves.”

By increasing the activity levels of health workers in the public eye, the objective of a healthy lifestyle becomes much more achievable.

Image: NHS

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