'We are literally destroying our children's future and condemning them to an early death'
No one cares about your health as much as you, except maybe your mother. And no one cares about your children's' health as much as you. And you need to care more because collectively, our health is heading for the doldrums. If the statistics are to be believed, and I think they should be, Ireland is getting fatter, less fit and more disease-prone as each year goes by.
We are literally destroying our children's future by setting them on course to be the fattest children in Europe by 2030. We are condemning them to an early death.
Obesity is the precursor to so many life-threatening and life-limiting diseases - diabetes, heart disease, stroke and many cancers, so we need to fix this urgently for their sake, as well as our own, because the HSE is in no shape to cope with the amount of us that are getting sick due to bad lifestyle choices - at an estimated cost to society of over €1bn a year.
The Government has released its Obesity Policy and Action Plan, and it has some good points.
You need to equip yourself with the information that will allow you to maintain and improve your and your family's health and well-being and keep you strong and fit and healthy. That's your responsibility as a person and as a parent.
And if you are unlucky enough to get struck by serious illness, as even the fit and healthy can be, you need to educate yourself about your condition and learn how to communicate effectively with your doctors to ensure that you are giving yourself the best chance possible.
The health landscape is changing. Our creaking HSE aside, there has been an explosion in private, consumer-driven - and often unregulated - medical and health-related industries.
We have booming cosmetic-surgery and fertility industries - both of which can involve powerful medication and often serious surgery, dispensed by doctors and practitioners whose end goal is not necessarily our overall health, nor do they claim it to be.
There has also been an upsurge in the number of dentists offering cosmetic dentistry, some of whom advertise their low prices.
The long-awaited and welcome recognition of the importance of our mental well-being has brought a surge in the number of people claiming to be counsellors and healers.
Don't get me started on this subject. While, there are no doubt some empathic and talented people outside psychology and psychiatry who can help others through trauma, an unregulated industry that pitches directly to those suffering from trauma or mental health issues is a ticking time bomb.
If the Government is so concerned about our mental health and well-being, the first stop should be the regulation of alternative and complementary therapists. And while they are at it, they should ban personal trainers from practising amateur psychology on clients. Trust me, the good ones don't.
Starting today and continuing next week in Monday's 'Health & Living' and continuing throughout the week in the feature pages of the Irish Independent, we are going to give you the tools to empower you to own your own health.
We begin with the basics - how to assess your state of health, how to disease-proof yourself and your family through the simple food choices and easy-to-do exercises for all levels of fitness. We also have a comprehensive guide to getting the best from your doctor or GP: what questions to ask, what language to use and what to do with the information you get.
We will help you negotiate the myriad of alternative and complementary therapies, decide which discretionary vaccines are useful and what health problems men need to ook out for.
Over the coming weeks, we will extend the series to focus on specific chronic conditions that affect us in Ireland, how to use medical information on the internet safely, your mental well-being, fertility and the fertility industry and cosmetic industry.
As always, we want your feedback, so if there are any areas you would like covered, just drop us an email.