“Doctor, I’m normal. Can you help?”

Yes, I know patients don’t actually complain of being normal, but isn’t there sometimes a not so small voice in your head telling you that this is, effectively, what’s happening? Why, you wonder, is this person surprised that if they continue to wear tight shoes their corns will keep returning? And why, oh why, do they think it makes sense to ask you for advice rather than the local shoe shop assistant?

And why does the person who would drive round the house if she could get the car through the front door think you can do anything about her knee pain if she isn’t willing to eat less and walk more? It isn’t rocket science and it certainly doesn’t require a medical degree or even a medical check up to appreciate that eat, smoke and drink too much and do too little with your body and it will object. Oh and that changing the above will help.

But, just in case there really is  any adult out there for whom this is news, the UK government is now introducing ‘health MOTs’ or annual checks for all over 40s, well or otherwise, all with the noble aim of saving lives. Now it isn’t as though I’ve got anything against saving lives, especially through preventative measures. Far from it. I’m more than glad to be able to help people to choose a healthier old age for themselves. It’s just that, like health journalist John Naish, I wonder whether we’re turning normal human behaviour and normal stages of human development into medical conditions, and whom, if anyone, we-the government, the medical profession, society- serve by doing so.

I don’t know how well John Naish’s radio programme tonight will handle this important issue but it may be worth listening in.

BBC Radio 4: 9pm 30th March 2009

Visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/ at 2100 hours GMT to Listen Live or anytime via the Listen Again service

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