The NHS provide a free Health Check for everyone of a certain age and recently I had mine. The nurse and I chatted about how I was feeling as she performed various measurements and tests. My blood pressure (115 / 70) and heart rate (57 and regular) were regarded as ideal. BMI was also in the correct range.
My cholesterol measurements were also considered ideal. Total cholesterol was 4.6; HDL was 1.8 and my triglyceride to HDL ratio was 2.56. My alcohol intake was not regarded as ideal but I do get plenty of sleep and exercise.
My diet…..this is where it gets interesting. I was asked about everything except what I eat; I was told what to eat. I had to avoid saturated fat; only eat lean meat; choose low fat versions; reduce intake of dairy products; eat lots of carbohydrates and use vegetable oils instead of fat. The nurse gave me a verbatim account of the official dietary guidelines.
The thing that she didn’t know, because she didn’t ask and I didn’t tell her, is that I drink full cream milk. I eat full fat Greek yoghurt. I eat lots of eggs and full fat cheese. I never cut the fat off meat because it gives the meat more flavour and it is good for me. I never use vegetable oils and cook with either butter or coconut oil. I keep my carbohydrate intake low because I don’t want to get fat, I don’t want diabetes and I don’t want Alzheimer’s disease.
The thing that bothers me is that she was talking to a man in his sixties with ideal values across a range of health measurements and she never asked me what I eat. Thousands of men and women up and down the country are having these check-ups and the NHS is completely missing the opportunity to do some research. Why don’t they want to know what everyone is actually eating and compare it to each person’s blood pressure and cholesterol? Research scientists always struggle to find enough volunteers to partake in their studies while the NHS has thousands of them but fails to ask them the right questions.
I have said it before and I will say it again. The NHS suffers from institutionalised thinking and never questions its own assumptions. How can it ever make a significant difference to the nation’s health when it won’t examine its own beliefs?