Deaths from diseases attributed to alcohol abuse continue to rise in England, according to a recent study that was published in the UK medical journal, the Lancet. Whilst smoking was previously the main concern as far as policymakers in the country were concerned, it turns out that junk food and alcohol are becoming a much larger problem and need to be tackled as a matter of urgency. Since 1990, there has been a 57% increase in the number of deaths from liver cancer and an increase of 42% in deaths from cirrhosis of the liver.
Set against these troubling figures is the more positive news that life expectancy for the population as a whole has risen by 6.4 years during the same period. However, the fact that a small but growing percentage of the population is dying from diseases relating to the misuse of alcohol and bad diets is giving the NHS cause for concern. Simon Stevens, the National Health Service chief, thinks that parents, and society as a whole, must be doing something very wrong for these habits to be getting worse in each successive generation. In his opinion, things could be very different with a little more effort: “Cutting down on junk food diets, couch potato lifestyles, cigarettes and booze could make Britain one of the healthiest places to live in the world, while saving taxpayers billions on future NHS costs”, he said.
Experts such as Professor John Ashton – the president of the Faculty of Public Health - believe that the power to solve these issues lies firmly with the government and that increases in prices for alcohol, tobacco and sugary drinks could make all the difference. Such increases may be particularly effective in changing the habits of young adults, thereby changing the attitudes of society going forward.