Warnings that Lead to Fatigue
Belfast Telegraph – 26.05.1999
Health promotion has become a cut-throat industry, an expert warned this week, without a hint of a smile.
Agencies, charities, politicians, academics and the mass media are all on our case trying, and generally abjectly failing, to knock us into better physical shape.
The hammer-it-home healthy living message sneaks in everywhere like subliminal advertising.
Even Coronation Street 's Jack Duckworth, beset with heart worries, turned down steak and kidney pie and chips in favour of tuna salad on Monday and waved away his favourite pint for a glass of red plonk. Vera turned pale and butcher Fred nearly expired on the spot.
There 's a diet drink ad on the go that tries to tempt you with a white bread bacon sarni the message being that if you fancy the cholesterol laden treat, you are weak, weak, weak.
It 's enough to have you reaching for the frying pan.
But at last the real message is filtering through. That too many Government health warnings can damage your health.
The tougher the party line, the more we rebel. Even or pehaps especially when we know that what we are being told is For Our Own Good.
When shock tactics are used to warn smokers of the health risks, they light up. Drinkers "nagged " about alcohol drink more.
When the authorities banned beef on the bone in the BSE scare, sales soared in defiance before the ban was implemented.
It 's called human nature. And it 's why diets always start tomorrow we 'll get round to joining a gym next pay day and would walk more if only there was time.
The new study by the Social Issues Research Centre in Oxford says we 're suffering from "warning fatigue " when a message is given so often it loses its impact. And they certainly have a point.
The healthy eating and exercise message has been expounded loud and clear for donkey 's years now. Yet obesity continues to rise.
Maybe what we need is less stick and more carrot.
And it's up to the health lobby to come up with the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed ideas.
There 's no doubt that we are what we eat and drink and that individuals can radically improve their chances of living a long and healthy life.
It 's up to the experts to do a smarter job of getting the message across.
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