Modern life is probably killing you by middle age - but the government's new "One You" public health campaign wants to change that

 
Lynsey Barber
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Bad diets and other habits are not helping us be healthy (Source: Getty)

Modern life is probably killing you.

That's what the government thinks, anyway, blaming too much drinking, unhealthy eating and lack of exercise among the middle-aged for an £11bn a year bill footed by the NHS.

Now, in an effort to improve the health of the nation and those aged between 40 and 60 in particular, a £6m campaign will encourage you to put down that wine glass, ditch the indulgent food and get off the sofa.

Good food and a bit of rest and relaxation may be the pastimes people tend to look forward to later in life, but these habits are actually making it more likely that you'll miss out on a long and healthy retirement, even though we're living longer than ever before.

"Currently 42 per cent of adults in midlife are living with at least one long-term health condition which increase their risk of early death and disability," said professor Sir Muir Gray, the clinical advisor to the new "One You" campaign, who added that many of these diseases which shorten lives can be prevented.

Long hours sitting at a desk, lengthy commutes and our generally busy lives are preventing us from putting our health first according to Public Health England, the government body behind the campaign - its biggest ever on an "unprecedented" scale.

So be prepared for questions such as "How are you?" plastered across the country's advertising billboards, and "Do you fill up on all the wrong foods?" at the petrol pumps.

An online quiz has been designed to assess your health and lifestyle - are you full of beans or really knackered? - and encourages you to make changes, such as quitting smoking or moderating drinking.

The million pound price tag may be designed to reduce the billion pound bill in the long term, but it has caused consternation among some and dubbed a "patronising money pit".

"It is astounding that this hectoring quango is squandering £3m promoting a tedious website that nobody will visit," said the Institute of Economic Affairs' Chris Snowdon.

"Whilst there is nothing wrong with health education, there is very little that is educational about this patronising money pit. Even when they are explicitly targeting middle-aged people, Public Health England cannot resist talking to us as if we were children."

For those who feel they need a nudge, there are also several apps to help you plan meals, track how much you drink, quit smoking and plan how to get from the sofa to the 5k finish line in nine weeks.

City AM Is the public health campaign helpful or hectoring?

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