By: Catherine Harvey
Addressing general health and preventative medicine, the Prime Minister has promised every adult in the UK will receive a free health MOT. Screening for conditions such as heart disease and diabetes will be among the tests and will be phased in over the next few years.
Screening for vascular disease, which is the primary cause of heart failure and strokes affecting 6.2 million people and bringing about the death of 200,000 of those per year, will begin in the over 60's later this year. This effectively brings the benefits of private health care into the public domain.
Blood pressure, cholesterol levels and Body Mass Index tests are among the few moves that the government can make widely available so that we have more control over which direction our health is taking as opposed to trying to fix it after it's broken.
This is good news for life insurance companies. They will be better able to assess our risks, which will reduce the premiums for healthier people.
Unfortunately, for those at risk, it will increase life insurance premiums but hopefully encourage all of us to follow a more responsible lifestyle.
In further moves to increase the nation's health, a ban on junk food advertising aimed at the under 16's has been put in place. Campaigners have said this is not enough and are calling for a total ban.
Media reports say that three quarters of us are concerned about our health and weight. This discovery was made in a poll that came one day after McDonalds announced growth rates close to their 1980's peak, resulting from 88 million visits to their outlets in just one month.
Obesity levels in Britain now outweigh those of the US and are a major concern to life insurance companies. The implications to the health of an obese individual are well documented.
At the other end of the scale is another growing UK health problem; that of our obsession with thinness. Celebrities have been condemned for their public portrayal that being an ultra thin size 0 is the only way to be pretty and worthy. This vanity has now reached a pinnacle with a new camera on the market that can make you look between 5 and 15lbs thinner than you really are.
Life insurance companies have a set scale from the British Medical Association that determines a healthy weight range but many people, whether obese or anorexic, are falling outside of these guidelines, increasing their life insurance premiums.
One of the problems associated with anorexia is the effect it can have on one's mental capacity. To starve the brain of the nutrients it needs leads to irrational thinking and a distorted view of one's life and the world around. This health defect was once associated with the aged but recent research shows this is not so.
In tests on the older generation, it was found that mathematical skills of years ago were unchanged and verbal skills actually improved with age. Throughout life, the brain develops and finds new ways of describing and coping with life changes. This is thought to over ride the loss of brain cells that also occur with age.
This was well and truly proved by the 89 year old grandfather who recently gained a degree in sociology. The old adage that you can't teach an old dog new tricks is obviously not so.
So, to keep life insurance premiums done we would do well to consider the results of medical tests to keep our health at an optimum for longer, cheaper life and remember that to have use of our full brain capacity, we should use it or lose it.