Islanders benefit from healthy lifestyles

Long-term perspective

Good health is key to individuals' wellbeing and brings many benefits, including enhanced access to education and the job market, better productivity, reduced health care costs, good social relations, and of course, a longer life. Preventable chronic diseases are now amongst the main causes of disability and death in Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member countries. People who do not smoke, drink alcohol in moderate quantities, are physically active, eat a balanced diet, and who are not overweight or obese have a much lower risk of chronic ill health and early death than those who have unhealthy habits.

Medium-term focus: the Government Plan 2020-23

A Government Plan 2020-23 priority is to improve Islanders’ wellbeing and mental and physical health. In particular, it aims to bring a new focus on wellbeing through a Health and Wellbeing Policy Framework, to integrate health improvement with action on the wider determinants of wellbeing (such as our housing, education and environment).

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Why Is This Important?

Good health is indispensable for Islanders' wellbeing and quality of life. This outcome is about ensuring Islanders are healthy and, as a result, have the opportunity to live longer and active lives. This, in turn, helps to prevent the need for health interventions and ensures that healthcare and support can be targeted at those who need it the most. It is also about ensuring that people can access the right treatment when they need it.

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Effective public health interventions, such as those targeted at reducing smoking, can help reduce avoidable deaths by preventing health conditions from occuring in the first place.

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Increasing levels of sport and physical activity has the potential to positively impact on physical and mental health and improve healthy life expectancy. There are also wider positive impacts such as reducing the economic cost of chronic disease on health and social services. Shifting to active modes of transport will reduce traffic congestion and pollution and could also produce other social benefits such as reduced social isolation, development of social skills and has the potential to displace anti-social and criminal behaviour. This in turn helps to create strong and vibrant communities.

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Alcohol misuse increases the risk of 60 medical conditions throughout the body, and contributes significantly to the biggest causes of preventable disease and early death, alongside poor nutrition, physical inactivity and tobacco use. Alcohol also contributes significantly to social harms, such as domestic violence and increases the risk of mental health conditions, such as depression. Alcohol-related harm in Jersey is estimated to cost £38 million a year in treating alcohol-related medical conditions, as well as the broader social and economic costs due to lost productivity and absence from work.

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Smoking is responsible for premature deaths from tobacco-related disease, as well as smoking-related illness. Non-smokers are also at risk from exposure to second-hand smoke, which contributes to a range of serious and fatal diseases. In addition to the personal cost to individuals and families from smoking-related illness and death, the social costs of ill-health through smoking are significant for government, both in terms of treatment and care, and other consequences, such as loss of productivity, welfare payments, fires and litter.

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In the past few decades, shifting dietary patterns have resulted in the increased consumption of an energy-dense diet, high in refined sugar and fat and low in fruit and vegetables. This is a major risk, driving the rising tide of non-communicable diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes which are now responsible for 70% of all deaths in Europe.

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