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Changeable behaviours

This section includes information on how lifestyle affects health. The way people live, particularly their habits and behaviours, affects mental and physical health. While some factors, such as poor housing, are often outside a person’s control, there are a number of things we change that are known to affect health and wellbeing.

These are known as lifestyle factors. Lifestyle factors involve personal choice combined with other factors related to a person's socio-economic status, age, disability, ethnicity, gender, sexuality and faith. Smoking, alcohol and substance misuse, sexual health, and physical inactivity and unhealthy diets are all important lifestyle risk factors that can be changed to help people live healthier lives. 

Reducing lifestyle risk factors is vital to extending life expectancy and improving the quality of life. It is important to prevent conditions from developing in the first place, but if that can't be done, modifying lifestyle risk factors becomes an important part of the management of long-term conditions alongside medical management.

There are a number of measureable changes in the body that are effectively "early warning" signs of future disease risk. These include high blood pressure and high levels of cholesterol, as well as being overweight or obese.

Often, risk factors may go undetected, particularly in the case of high blood pressure because it has no signs or symptoms and is often called the "silent killer". The NHS Health Check is an example of an important preventative programme that measures blood pressure and cholesterol among people with no diagnosed condition.

The documents on this page give more information and evidence on specific lifestyle factors that influence health, including how common they are in Islington's population.

Information and evidence documents

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