Yet another about turn on government guidelines regarding health. Today NICE has produced draft guidelines stating that after the first three months of pregnancy there is no evidence to show that drinking up to 1.5 units of alcohol a day causes any damage to unborn children, contradicting earlier advice from the Department of Health.
Of course fifteen to twenty years ago and beyond women were actively encouraged to drink alcohol, particularly stout as this helped to prevent anaemia, quite common in the later stages of pregnancy.
Who listens to this advice anyway, certainly not alcoholics whose babies are the ones at risk of Foetal Alcohol Syndrome.
It's the same with all government advice. Eat five pieces of fruit a day. Why five? Where did that figure come from? If you eat more is it bad for you? If you eat less will you still be at risk of heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and an early death? Is it quantifiable, if you only eat three pieces of fruit a day will you live two fiths less long that someone who eats five? Will vegetarians live forever?
Take more exercise. What counts as exercise? According to a recent campaign anything active no matter how moderate, a gentle stroll, gardening, sex - this featuring an older couple, can they really actively bonk for thirty minutes or does foreplay count which isn't really that active, just hands and mouths?
How many people are now more active than they were before the smoking ban because they have to go outside for a fag? Does that count?
The government continually identifies a problem, which may or may not be transient and/or confined to a small section of society and then berates everybody with expensive advertising campaigns. This leads to a general trend to
a) ignore government advice on the grounds that its so bloody obvious and we do it anyway,
b) take it to heart and try to follow the guidelines strictly, resulting in guilt and stress, contributing to high blood pressure, heart disease etc. or
c) ignore it because everybody is always banging on at you anyway.
Shouldn't the advisory bodies be targetting the specific groups that need help, doctors and midwives offering help and support to those pregnant women who do have a problem with alcohol for instance, whilst encouraging those that are more than capable of making their own choices to do so?
Giving peple responsibility makes them more responsible whilst taking away accountability seems to encourage the idea that somebody else will do it for you.