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GPs' lifestyles were the focus at the Society for Academic Primary Care annual conference last week. Jo Haynes reports

GPs are practising the health promotion messages they preach to their patients, a study reveals.

They are far less likely than other professionals to smoke, more likely to exercise regularly and slightly less likely to drink heavily.

The study's authors said there was evidence to show that doctors with good personal health habits were more likely to have a positive impact on their patients' lifestyles.

Study leader Dr Mark Tully said: 'It seems that GPs are beginning to practise what they preach.

'A message has got through to GPs that they need to take on the health promotion message themselves before passing it on to their patients.'

His research found that just 4 per cent of GPs were smokers compared with 19 per cent among those in other professional and managerial sectors and 29 per cent of the general population.

Some 24 per cent of GPs were 'regularly active', compared with 20 per cent in other professional and managerial groups and 16 per cent of

the population as a whole. The proportion who said they consumed more than the recommended weekly limit of alcohol units was 13 per cent among GPs, 15 per cent among other professionals and 17 per cent in the general


The findings were based on the responses of 735 Northern Ireland GPs to a postal questionnaire. Their answers were compared with age- and sex-matched data from the Northern Ireland Health and Wellbeing Survey.

Dr Tully, research fellow in general practice at Queen's University Belfast, said the

results indicated that GPs had taken steps over the past decade to lead more healthy lifestyles, as a study in 1992 had found GPs took sig-

nificantly less exercise than teachers.

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