A SWANSEA GP has backed a minister for saying that too many people in Wales are making wrong lifestyle choices and burdening the NHS.
Dr Ian Millington said Health Minister Mark Drakeford deserved credit for speaking frankly and risking unpopularity.
Professor Drakeford was commenting on the latest Welsh health survey, which reinforced previous findings about obesity and poor health in Wales.
He said: "We have seen progress, with a two per cent drop in the number of people smoking and a small decline in levels of drinking.
"However, the reality is too many people are making lifestyle choices that are damaging their health and endangering their lives. This in turn puts massive pressure on our NHS."
The Welsh Government has set out plans to introduce a 50p minimum price per unit of alcohol, and tighten regulations on tobacco retailers.
"However, to make a difference to Wales's health, people also have to take responsibility for their own lifestyle choices — government cannot make individuals be healthy," added the minister.
Dr Millington said politicians who sent out lifestyle choice messages risked being unpopular.
"I think this health minister is really addressing the issue," he said.
Dr Millington, medical secretary of Abertawe Bro Morgannwg local medical committee, said GPs had been encouraging patients to ditch unhealthy behaviour for years.
"I think this is a message we do have to get out there," he said. "If people smoke, drink and eat excessively, there are consequences."
He added: "One of the worrying things is that it is related to deprivation. It is not always easy to change your life if you are poorer."
Asked the one thing that people could do to improve their health, he said: "Stop smoking. Smoking kills, disables, and has enormous consequences."
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