We’re all guilty of it from time to time – being that little devil on a friend’s shoulder urging them to break their new or long-standing health vows. If they’re on a diet, we try and tempt them with a candy bar. If they’re trying to keep off the booze for a week, month or year, we try and get them to a bar.
All in the spirit of good fun of course, but according to at least one senior health official, it’s something we really should not be doing at all.
The message represents just one extract from the new guidelines issued by the UK’s health watchdog – the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence. According to its authors, achieving and maintaining a better standard of public health across the West is all about encouragement, support and common goals – not trying to make others fall head-first off the wagon.
“You should share your goals with friends, family and work colleagues so they understand what you’re trying to do,” said Professor Mike Kelly while speaking to the Daily Mail.
“They also must understand it’s not helpful or a joke to tempt people deliberately. Some do – it’s a bit of fun. They go on a diet, and someone says, ‘Oh come on this cream cake won’t do any harm’,
“Say for example someone says, ‘I’m going to make a real effort to cut down on my drinking’. If the first thing that happens within the next five minutes is that a colleague says, ‘Come on, we’re all going down the pub after work’, that doesn’t help,”
“It’s asking people to be a bit more thoughtful, a bit more understanding of the difficulties.”
Critics however have been quick to hit back at the guidelines and comments such as the above, arguing that it represents yet another step toward the nanny-state way of living where even light-hearted jokes are frowned upon by overcautious bureaucrats.