« FRUIT AND VEGETABLES CONSUMPTION
AND CIGARETTE SMOKING »
Only connect, E M Forster’s dictum on the complexities of life, applies equally well to public health. Fruit and vegetables bring benefits when part of a balanced diet, a balanced diet is heavily determined by the exercise we take and any health improvements will be severely undermined if we don’t also avoid tobacco, treat alcohol with caution and embrace safer sexual practices. And yet all too often we hunker down in our disciplinary silos – nutrition, tobacco control, sexual health – ignoring these obvious linkages.
This month’s Newsletter escapes this trap with three insightful papers on the numerous connections between smoking and F&V consumption. Giovino presents a longitudinal study showing that higher levels of fruit and vegetable consumption among smokers predicts quitting. He goes on to posit some fascinating biological explanations for this.
Dauchet and Poisson remind us of the well-established links between smoking and diet, but, despite initial success, were unable to establish a causative link between F&V consumption and quitting smoking. Intriguingly though, they raise a broader explanation for the links that have been established, suggesting that both F&V consumption and quitting cigarettes may be driven by a general inclination towards healthy behaviour.
Finally Gibault uses data from Thailand to show that the story is dynamic: not only is smoking cessation linked to healthier diets, and indeed other healthy behaviour, but this becomes more marked over time. The longer someone is quit for, the healthier their other behaviours become.
Between them, the three papers confirm the interconnectivity of our work. In doing so, they remind us that in the final analysis public health is not about behaviours, it’s about people.