GOVERNMENTS of all persuasions are spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to get us to take better care of ourselves.
It is essential for them to undertake these costly campaigns, because in the long run it could save the nation billions, not millions.
Demand for health-related services are increasing at a frightening rate as Australia’s population not only increases, but ages rapidly.
As millions of cashed up baby boomers begin to enter their twilight years, the stress on health services is a major concern.
The ageing population is a major focus for economic and social policy.
How do we provide health and disability services and family and community care?
Yes, people are living longer but the consequence of that is an extra cost burden to the taxpayer.
That cost is even greater if we are dealing with millions of people who have not taken particularly good care of themselves. A 75-year-old who is independent and living at home is less of a cost burden to the state than one that requires constant care.
It is in the national interest for governments to spend up big on campaigns aimed at encouraging people to quit smoking, or to get a pap smear, or to eat better and exercise more, or get a prostate examination, the theory being that it will pay off in the long-term.
But how long must the taxpayer be expected to pay for expensive campaigns that, ultimately, state the obvious?
These are difficult issues, but surely we need to face up to our responsibilities as individuals.
Many of the campaigns have been successful, particularly in relation to smoking, one of the biggest killers.
But at the same time, people are not heeding the obvious messages about diet and obesity.
In a wealthy, well-educated nation like Australia, it seems ludicrous that government has to take the initiative to get people off the couch.
It is in our best interests, as well as in the national interest, for us to start looking after ourselves better, heed the messages, and take better care of ourselves and our children.