According to PruHealth's bi-annual Vitality Index, which tracks the nation's health trends across stress, exercise, diet, smoking, health knowledge and check-ups, despite believing that obesity is the greatest threat to the health of the nation followed by heart disease, it would take being diagnosed with a health condition to encourage the vast majority of people to improve their health and fitness.
The Vitality Index also shows a distinction between what UK adults consider the biggest health concerns facing the nation and their own individual health concerns. For example, while obesity was considered the biggest health issue facing the nation, from an individual standpoint, cancer was the greatest health concern. Smoking and alcohol abuse made it into the top 5 biggest health issues facing the nation, however, these concerns were replaced by stress and Alzheimer's disease on the list of individual health concerns. Only 10 per cent of UK adults cite stress, and 6 per cent cite depression, as the biggest health issues facing the nation, whereas these conditions feature much higher in the list of individual health concerns, at 16 and 14 per cent, respectively. Conversely, poor diet and nutrition was considered one of the biggest health concerns facing the nation by almost one fifth of UK adults (19 per cent), but only 8 per cent saw it as an individual health concern.
Although people in the UK appear to be clear on what the big issues are facing the health of the nation, when it comes to translating this knowledge into healthy behaviour, people are struggling. Only a fifth exercise the recommended 5 days a week or more, and just under a quarter eat five portions of fruit and vegetables a day. In addition to using the diagnosis of a health condition as a catalyst to improve health and fitness, rewards and incentives are the second most popular way of inspiring healthy behaviour.