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One of the problems is that the earlier you develop bad habits, the more ingrained those habits become.

Healthy habits for next generation entrepreneurs

Dr Ross Walker
11 February 2014

by Ross Walker

Recently I appeared on the Switzer show being interviewed by Peter’s son Marty on a variety of health issues. One of the very pertinent questions Marty asked me was when should young people start focusing on their health and, secondly, what are the biggest health issues in younger people?

I answered the first part of Marty’s question by saying, the earlier the better. One of the problems is that the earlier you develop bad habits, the more ingrained those habits become.

This leads on to answering the second question which really is best explained in five separate categories.

The first and most obvious concern is the increasing rate of obesity seen in younger people. With the increasing availability of all manner of food and the increasing ingestion of alcoholic beverages and soft drinks, we are seeing a growing issue with obesity in our community. Couple this with reduced activity, more sedentary jobs and more time spent in front of computer screens for work and leisure reasons, contributes to the growing problem of obesity.

The second and very concerning specific health issue in younger people is the increasing use of legal and illegal drugs. We are witnessing an increasing problem with alcohol abuse, the use of anabolic steroids, not to mention the myriad amount of illegal drugs and not to mention the ever present cigarette smoking, all too common in younger people. 

A third effect that has an ongoing impact on young people is modern life stresses. In yesteryear, you could expect to stay at work in the same employment for thirty to forty years and be given a gold watch on retirement. These days, young people may expect three to four career changes throughout their life and the ongoing stresses necessary to change direction and to keep up with modern trends, is often very difficult. 

Fourthly, is the increasing exposure to a whole host of synthetic chemicals. Just breathing the air of a modern city, can lead to thousands of micro doses of various chemicals on a daily basis. For example, air pollution is the fourth commonest cause of death in mainland China. 

Regardless, we now see many people wandering around with the ubiquitous bottled water. There are numerous endocrine disrupting chemicals present in bottled water, the most common being that of Bisphenol A, otherwise known as BPA. This has been demonstrated to be associated with a whole host of hormonal, developmental and other health issues. 

Finally, another modern scourge is that of our increasing exposure to electronics and electromagnetic radiation. Emails and mobile phones, not to mention the ubiquitous social media often demands instant answers and little time for contemplation and relaxation. The other concerning feature here, is the excessive exposure to electromagnetic radiation and there are many health authorities very concerned about the chronic health effects emanating from these sources. 

It is quite obvious to me that these five key areas are very important contributors to many of the modern health issues now affecting people at much younger ages and until we start addressing these issues, I can only see the situation becoming worse.

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