Sunday, 15 July 2012

Not Sitting Around but Doing My Bit for Health Promotion

My office is located on the 1st floor of the School. It doesn’t have much of a view, but it is good enough. I took some time and spent some money (my own) on making it feel comfortable and a creative space to be in. Some days I seldom move from it so having a pleasant working environment is important. Early in the morning I did like to fire up the i-pod and depending on the mood or what I had to tackle that day, my choice of music might range from the Rolling Stones, Pink Floyd, Leonard Cohen, French Cafe music or something from my Euphoric Garage days. I say did, as someone (person(s) unknown) has stolen the i-pod from my office docking station. I doubt they are reading this blog, but if they are, thanks for the inconvenience and it’s to be hoped you like my taste in music.

Now despite its attractions, the one disadvantage my office has is that it is located below 2 of our Skills Laboratories. Nearly every day when students assemble in these rooms for sessions, they drag their chairs across the floor, and for what can often seem like a lifetime, this dreadful intrusive noise goes on and on. Not one of our students appears capable of lifting a chair in order to move it. But I now have the perfect solutionto this problem. I am going to remove all chairs from the Skills Labs and classrooms. In so doing I will be doing my bit for health promotion. There is an evidence base to support me.

This week in BMJ Open, an US study reported that restricting the time spent sitting down every day to less than 3 hours could add a 2 year extension onto a person’s life. The study drew on data collected for the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) for 2005/6 and 2009/10 on the general health and lifestyle of 167,000 US adults. Basing their findings on 5 population studies, the researchers estimated deaths from all causes linked to sitting time were around 27%. While the study was unable to predict individual risk associated with time spent sitting down, I think that in terms of promoting health and wellbeing amongst the student group all chairs will hence forth be removed. It’s a win win situation.

And so it seems is the UK Governments Healthy Start Scheme. Until last week I was completely oblivious to this fantastic scheme. Last week the Department of Health published a report on how the scheme was working. It was a very positive report and the scheme is making a difference to many people’s lives. The Healthy Start scheme is designed to help low-income pregnant women and families with children under 4 years of age buy liquid cows milk, fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk (sorry Midwifery colleagues). Over 15,000 retail businesses (across 30,000 retail outlets) are registered to accept Healthy Start vouchers. Every 4 weeks 2.6 million Healthy Start vouchers are issued to 450,000 vulnerable families across the UK. Around 91% of these are spent and returned to the Healthy Start retailer reimbursement unit. 70% of vouchers are used with supermarkets the remainder are spent at pharmacies, independent shops, market stalls and door stop milk rounds men. Healthy Start vouchers are worth £3.10 and voucher misuse is rare.

Unfortunately, Jemima, the duck who thinks she a hen, is not entitled to the vouchers, even though she has 2 chicks that are only 10 days old. However, they do get a healthy diet every day, including corn on the cob, Cos lettuce, scrambled eggs (I know, strange but true), whole meal bread (crusts left on) and fresh corn. Yesterday Jemima had them outside in the run for the first time and they seemed to be doing well, and I've never seen a chair in the Hen House.