The Minister of Health, Dr Fuad Khan, must be congratulated for identifying major lifestyle issues. He exhibited an enormous amount of courage when he attacked very popular drinks—the super-energy drinks. What is alarming is the explosive mixture of alcohol and these boosters. Of course, this development highlights the fact that a fad could turn out to be a giant killer. Dr Khan warned that the caffeine content “in one energy drink was equivalent to consuming ten cups of coffee.” While dynamite is blasting the landscape in some very sensitive areas, thousands of youth are rejoicing while they drink the latest poison. The new chaser to alcohol is merciless. The mixture has the potential to destroy. I participated in a graduation in a southern school and there was a lot of sorrow when a certain name was called. After the ceremony, I was informed about the cruel mixture that destroyed this secondary school student. Given the reckless pursuit of pleasure that dominates the culture, there is always a desire for a quick-fix. Therefore, you have the quest for additional sources of energy. Lime whole night, fete till you sweat, hop till you drop. It is all about minimum sleep and maximum wining. The Ministry of Health has gone beyond the super-energy drinks. Dr Khan has vowed to be a role model in the area of physical fitness. Workers are being challenged to exercise and they are being motivated to use state-of-the-art equipment and the services of professional trainers. The latest Korean research suggests that “being overweight in later life puts you at higher risk of brain decline.” According to the article in Saturday’s Guardian, “Obesity harm later brain skill,” a high BMI (body mass index) is not only bad for the heart but also “bad for the head.”
The research guru in this study, Dae Hyun Yoon, made the following statement: “Our findings have important public health implications. The prevention of obesity, particularly central obesity, might be important for the prevention of cognitive decline or dementia.” The recommendation for solving this huge problem included “eating a balanced diet, maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly and getting your blood pressure and cholesterol checked…” Many people set a bad example. They sit down in front of the television for hours, eat a heavy amount of food and then go to bed. What are they doing? Hurting the heart, destroying the head, and overworking the stomach. Then some people drink and smoke, virtually shooting their families. Drug mixing is the name of the game. How many times do we see the drink in the right hand and the cigarette in the left? Dr Khan cou-rageously raised the issue of the energy drinks. But what about our youth drinking, smoking and not exercising? The fans of Whitney Houston must have been doubly hurt when the toxicology results were released. It was disclosed that she was a chronic cocaine user. It was also revealed that she had “marijuana, Xanax, the muscle relaxant Flexeril, and the allergy medication Benadryl in her system. While some people sought to go easy on the star, UCLA professor of pathology, Dr Michael Fishbein, was extremely blunt. He stated that “cocaine use has been known to cause damage to the heart and could have caused Houston’s death.” Some of our entertainers, calypsonians, pan players and arrangers, have been slaughtered by drugs. What is worse is that they have a romantic affair with denial. Some are dead and some are struggling to be alive. In the bars where there are the legal killers—alcohol and tobacco— many customers are bringing their prescription drugs and the illegal stuff. Like Houston’s system, these “wreckreational” facilities resemble pharmacies.
Again we must congratulate Dr Khan and his administrators at the Ministry of Health for highlighting major crises affecting and afflicting our nation. Therefore, we have to launch a sustained blitz aimed at destroying horrible choices. However, the major thrust must involve a dynamic and creative promotion of healthy lifestyles. We must go in the schools, street corners, community centres, towns, villages, football and cricket fields, basketball courts. We must turn our churches into lifestyle centres, our NGOs into health sanctuaries. We have to move and move now. We have to return to our offices and redesign our health education programmes. Delay will prove to be fatal. Dr William Dysinger, Loma Linda University professor, has served on the faculty of this noble medical institution for 28 years. He has written extensively on the benefits of a consistent and well structured exercise programme. He has provided an encouraging list of the advantages gained in this positive lifestyle adventure. These include reduced coronary heart disease risk, stimulation and production of the body’s natural antioxidants, more personal energy, less depression and “free-floating anxiety.” Bones increase in strength and there is more efficient digestion and less constipation. One has a better self-image, more self-confidence, even more restful sleep. The list goes on and on. Think about fewer aches and pains, easier pregnancy and child birth. Think about reduced medical costs—savings in this era of global recession. What are we waiting for?
I have said it before and I will say it again and again. There is urgent need for our leaders to establish priorities. But hello, there is a greater need for parents to establish priorities in the family. Did we hear much about healthy lifestyles during the recently concluded no-confidence motion? In fact, these super-long debates damage the vital organs of our parliamentarians and their staff. It destroys brain and heart function while horrible eating habits are displayed. The psychological pain is even more intense. There is need for urgent reform. You look at some of our public officials and it appears as if they are about to collapse. What about the Carnival scena-rio? What about the long hours in these all-inclusive parties? You see the immediate effects because some get so drunk they have to be helped to get to their vehicles. Some still drive under the influences of alcohol. In fact, for many in our nation every weekend is Carnival time. Just think of the road hogs who display their savage conduct on our highways. Think of their overstressed condition and their irrational behaviour. Remember the mangled wrecks that used to be cars and vans, and you must be convinced that we have major lifestyle problems.
The journey of 1,000 miles begins with the first step. So Dr Khan, congratulations. Let us spread the gospel of lifestyle choices with churchillian zeal.