Docs accuse TV programmes of missing out health messages

December 31st, 2008 - 5:07 pm ICT by ANI  

London, December 31 (ANI): Doctors say that actors who portray characters with unhealthy lifestyles in television programmes should be shown reaping bad consequences.
Releasing a list of its “top ten” unhealthiest characters, private healthcare firm Bupa suggested that they could be used to hammer home health messages.
The firm argued that heavy smoker Dot Cotton, from Eastenders, should be shown breathless.
It even said that characters of heavy drinkers in programmes should be shown having broken veins.
Doctors are worried that the characters that are shown to have habits of smoking, drinking and eating unhealthily are generally shown as being in perfect health.
“Characters who have been smoking for many years have implausibly good health, the BBC quoted Dr Peter Mace, Bupa’’s assistant medical director, as saying.
“Though Dot Cotton has a smoker’’s voice - deeper than you might expect, she does not seem to be short of breath or wheezy, while Shadrach Dingle, from Emmerdale,
should, by rights, have a red face with some broken veins that you may see with his alcohol consumption.
“Tyrone Dobbs, from Coronation Street, consumes far too much saturated fat and does little or no exercise, which would realistically lead to high cholesterol levels which, in turn, may lead to heart disease,” he added.
He said that such a depiction of the “everyday lives” of TV characters may adversely influence viewers.
“We ask that soap opera scriptwriters portray the effects of an unhealthy lifestyle more realistically, such as in the way they”ve handled other medical issues such as cancer or Aids. The soaps are an important way of getting a message across,” he said.
A spokesman for the BBC said: “”EastEnders” has always highlighted health issues such as HIV and mental illness in storylines which have really engaged viewers. Medical dramas such as Holby and Casualty often show the more subtle nuances of medical health matters.” (ANI)

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