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Wellbeing: the way forward

Healthcare is set to be shaken up by mobile apps and a new way of looking at reproduction.

Wellbeing: the way forward

Five hundred million people will be using mobile health apps by 2015, according to the Global Mobile Health Market Report 2010-2015.

The rise of mHealth, the term used to describe medical services delivered via mobile devices, is a natural progression of the home health market in an increasingly time-poor society.

Today, blood pressure, oxygen levels, cholesterol levels and more can be tracked via mobile technology. In many cases, data streams are then fed into tracking software that can help doctors detect problems when they start, leading to earlier intervention.

“There is now ample evidence about the value of leveraging mobile technologies for simple things such as text-message support to improve health behaviours and avoid unnecessary health care visits,” Dr Kevin Patrick, a professor of family and preventive medicine at the University of California, San Diego, concludes.

In 2014, Apple launched the iPhone 6, complete with an inbuilt (and free) Health App including a pedometer and kilojoule counter on the dashboard. The app allows users to input basic information like birth date, will record certain data on its own and can collect statistics from third-party fitness devices and apps such as Fitbit.

Diet and Prevention

The health world was shaken up by a wave of new diets in 2014, as consumers became increasingly determined to seek out locally sourced so-called “superfoods”. Whether it’s wholefoods, organic, sugar-free or raw, the importance placed on diet and nutrition is on the rise, born from an influx of new data pointing to the preventable nature of many of the world’s most lethal diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and common cancers.

Up to an estimated 14 per cent of bowel cancer cases are attributed to obesity, as are an estimated seven to 15 per cent of breast cancer cases in developed countries.

With saturated fats and salt long linked to heart health, it is sugar that has been embraced by the health world as the “new” silent killer.

The year 2015 will see even more people adopt a sugar- conscious approach to their diet, as food manufacturers scramble to keep up with consumers’ growing demands for more transparency when it comes to packaging, and for alternatives to sugar such as rice malt syrup, coconut syrup and stevia.

According to the American 2013 Natural Marketing Institute survey, 59 per cent of consumers are now watching the sugar content in their diets and 70 per cent said they consumed low-sugar foods and beverages. Nielsen data supports these numbers, showing an impressive growth in sales of sugar-reduced and low-glycaemic products. Judging by these figures, we can expect to see more sugar alternatives released soon.

For Fun

It was a radical statement, but one that sent tremors through the fertility world, when Austrian-American professor, chemist and author Carl Djerassi, inventor of the contraceptive pill, recently claimed sex and reproduction would soon be two separate entities.

“Over the next few decades, say by the year 2050, more IVF fertilisations will occur among fertile women than the current five million fertility-impaired ones,” he told The Telegraph. “For them the separation between sex and reproduction will be 100 per cent.”

While the theory may sound extreme, it draws attention to the shifting attitude towards fertility treatment, which may no longer be reserved just for men and women facing reproductive complications. According to Djerassi, assisted fertility will soon be widely embraced by healthy couples wishing to safeguard their prospects of a family without the worry of a ticking biological clock.

“The vast majority of women who will choose IVF in the future will be fertile women who have frozen their eggs and delayed pregnancy,” Djerassi says. “Women in their 20s will first choose this approach as insurance, providing them with freedom in the light of professional decisions or the absence of the right partner or the inexorable ticking of the biological clock.”

In Australia, studies show that roughly one in 30 babies is conceived by IVF, according to professor Ben Mol from the University of Adelaide.

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