CHOOSE life, choose a job, choose going on holiday and owning a car – just don’t be poor or disabled or homeless if you want to reach a ripe old age.

NHS Fife’s director of public health has also said don’t smoke, practise safe sex, don’t live in a deprived area, eat well, don’t get stressed and don’t be a lone parent if you want to live a long and prosperous life.

Dona Milne gave the healthy advice as she told councillors recently that more needs to be done to help those in poverty before their health and wellbeing can improve.

She said: “There has been a shift in healthcare to prevention methods.

“Healthcare isn’t the main determinant of health, but the social and economic conditions which people live.

“The advice from the chief medical officer in England is don’t smoke, follow a balanced diet, keep active, manage stress, practise safe sex and go for cancer screenings.

“However, the Townsend Centre had alternative advice from one of their studies which said don’t be poor, don’t live in a deprived area, don’t be disabled, don’t work in a low-paid job, don’t be homeless, have enough money to pay for an annual holiday, don’t be a lone parent, and be able to afford a car.”

At Fife Council’s policy and co-ordination committee last week, she added: “Scottish health is improving but not fast enough. There has been a halt in the improvement of life expectancy.

“I’m not trying to be political but studies have pointed to austerity and a redesign in public services for being the main cause.”

Ms Milne continued: “You need a shift to prevention if you really want to make a change in the lives of the people of Fife. The lowest socio-economic groups often have the poorest health outcomes.

“Personally, I think we have made some fantastic progress.

“We have some circumstances now that are not benefitting our population and we need to have a look at some of these areas.”

Asked to elaborate, she said: Ms Milne said: “There are some challenges around things like Universal Credit and benefit changes, zero hours contracts, short-term employment, not getting the living wage – there are a number of things.”

Cllr David Ross said: “There obviously needs to be more of a focus on prevention, which we as a council need to emphasise. But the reality is with budget pressures, all those things are under threat and we need to prevent it as much as we can.

“We need to make sure we’re making the most of the resources we have.”