Well, it’s been quite a Summer! Our guess is that it would be easier to beat Usain Bolt in the 100 metre sprint, while doing the ‘Mobot’, than it would to find somebody who hasn’t been inspired in some way by the athletes who participated in the 2012 games. Perhaps our recent focus on such healthy and self-disciplined beings is the reason for exercise, diet and weight loss making re-entries in the Aurora top 20…
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According to media coverage in August, many of us are failing miserably with our ‘five-a-day’ and eating far too much saturated fat. To make things worse, even our doctors aren’t being taught enough about the health benefits of exercise to help get us on the straight and narrow. Perhaps this accounts for the rise in NHS surgery for obesity? Yet, alongside this rather dismal news, were some nuggets of hope and advice for those willing to do what they can to avoid being ‘condemned to a lifetime of illness’. According to the month’s stories, it’s down with fizzy drinks, up with blackcurrants, back with free milk in school and if you want to cut your chances of diabetes, then it might be worth considering pumping some iron.
Lifestyle topics continued to be top charters with alcohol making a re-appearance at number 15. A similar pattern appears here with the dark cloud of the middle classes being driven to drink by the recession, accompanied by the silver lining of the demon drink protecting against osteoporosis, cutting falls by steadying the elderly on their feet and ‘positive social effects’ for university drinkers (hmm). All of the above in moderation, of course!
Vaccination appeared straight in at number six as a brand new entry. One of the biggest outbreaks in measles in decades resulted in experts asking parents to ensure their children have had the ‘vital’ MMR vaccine before sending them back to school after the Summer holidays. According to the Health Protection Agency (HPA), the incidence of this potentially fatal disease has almost doubled to 964 confirmed cases in the first half of this year, compared to 497 in the same period the previous year. In addition, a number of national newspapers reported on a move by the NHS to offer every child between the ages of two and 17 a free nasal flu vaccination in order to see a 40 per cent reduction in flu cases, 11,000 less hospitalisations and saving 2,000 lives per year – but not until 2014. Potential whooping cough jabs for teenagers and pregnant women following a worrying outbreak and shingles jabs for the elderly also hit the headlines.
Other hot topics were mental health, depression and NHS services, with reports including spending on mental health falling for the first time in a decade, an increase in GPs telling patients to go private and the possibility that we are becoming a nation of ‘happy pill’ poppers, following the release of information on the prescription of antidepressants during 2011.
And finally, and on a slightly morbid note (sorry if we have already sent you running for the ‘happy-pills’), one article which caught our eye here at Aurora was a report from a pilot study, covered only by The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian, that a quarter, yes – a quarter, of patient death records show the wrong cause of death. Although the report suggests it is unlikely that doctors are deliberately falsifying information, it does indicate that this lack of precision means that death records might be hiding the true scale of some diseases, not to mention friends and relatives being given the wrong information about their nearest and dearest. All a bit scary if you ask us. Feels like time to start on the blackcurrants and sample some of the ‘positive social effects’ of alcohol, perhaps?
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Aurora strives to apply quantitative, qualitative and emotional understanding of health issues to client communication programmes. Dove-tailing informed PR activity with the media’s appetite enables us to assist clients with communicating their vision.
The top 20 chart provides our interpretative snap-shot of health stories in the national press and is based upon a quantitative process. Analysis based on news from the 26 July to 25 August.