I recently read an article by Paul Lincoln of the UK Public Health Network.
He argues that “I believe the term lifestyle or lifestyle factors should be completely abandoned by public health professionals/” Why does he believe that? Well there is a very good reason. As Mr Lincoln notes, this term, “Lifestyle,” is a loaded term that reinforces stereotypes about individuals and a world view that people are majorly or entirely responsible for their own health.
Mr. Lincoln suggests that the term “deathstyle” would probably be better because that clearly communicates that people are consciously making a choice to be unhealthy and die. I also believe this “lifestyle” language in the public health debate is very harmful. It places all the blame on the patient despite the clear evidence that patients do not actively choose to have diabetes or die early. Sure, there are factors which affect things, if you don’t eat right and don’t exercise, that can be a factor in the emergence of diabetes in many of us. But it isn’t the only factor, genetics is certainly very important and probably more important.