Summary Fascination “Prevention“

Prof. Dr. Stephan Martin, Düsseldorf


Over the past few years we have witnessed a dramatic increase in the problem of overweight and the resulting illnesses such as diabetes mellitus Type 2, high blood pressure and fat metabolism disorders. The blame is laid here primarily at changed eating patterns with high-calorie diets and the associated food industry. Another factor that is unfortunately often completely forgotten is that over the past few decades increasing mechanisation of working life and changed patterns of leisure time have had a significant impact on the extent and nature of physical activity. In particular, cable TV, Inter¬net and computer games mean that most adults now move on average only around 400 meters each day. These changes in social living patters seem to have led to an even greater decrease in sporting activity among children. This can be seen very clearly in the advance of type 2 diabetes, which used to be referred to as adult onset diabetes but that is today being observed increasingly frequently in children. Political demands for a “fat tax” or prohibition of advertisement for certain foods are probably the wrong approach, as otherwise it would therefore also be necessary to introduce an “inactivity tax” on all products that encourage inactivity. This inactivity tax would hit particularly hard television companies, car manufacturers and the computer industry – all of which deserve particular blame for the change to the worse in our lifestyles. The main focus of the discussion must rather be on information and education, ideally commencing in playschool and elementary school – if not earlier!

The change in social living and working patterns caused by increased television consumption, automation and computerisation of our living environment and high-calorie diets must be counteracted by new structures, such as health centres. It is particularly important that people become aware in all social areas and levels that sport and physical activity represent an important tool for maintaining as well as recovering good health. The onus is now more than ever before on lawmakers to create additional incentive systems that reward persons with a proven healthier lifestyle.