The PruHealth Vitality Index reveals a clear gap between Britons' perceptions of what it means to be healthy and having a real understanding of the impact of lifestyle, diet and fitness levels on current and future health.
The Index reveals that more than two thirds of people in Britain claim they are in a good state of health. However, when lifestyle and fitness choices are scrutinised the reality paints quite a different picture, as a significant proportion of those who feel they are in a good state of health do not follow a healthy lifestyle:
- Less than six out of ten feel they actually follow a healthy lifestyle
- Less than half describe their fitness levels as ‘good’
- Just a quarter eat their recommended five a day of fruit and veg
- Two thirds think they are overweight
- A fifth smoke
- Only a fifth are stress-free
- Just over one in ten go for regular screenings or check-ups with their GP
The majority say they know what they should be doing in order to follow a healthy lifestyle, but many simply are not putting this into action, with lack of motivation, cost and lack of time clear barriers to living a healthy lifestyle. More than half feel free access to exercise and swimming classes would help tackle national obesity, and almost an equal number claim cheaper fruit and vegetables would have an effect.
Nearly a third believe increasing exercise in schools is an important factor and more than a quarter feel school meals should be healthier. Almost a quarter feels that nutrition and diet classes should be introduced to combat obesity.
Shaun Matisonn of PruHealth says: "It is staggering that so many people are still failing to meet the minimum guidelines for exercise and diet, continue to smoke and drink heavily and yet believe themselves to be generally healthy. The vast majority say they know how to live healthier lifestyles, yet are not listening to the advice around them, and it is this inertia that as a nation we need to target in order to encourage change. Incentivising people to make small changes to their lifestyles - such as PruHealth's Vitality scheme offering rewards for engaging in healthy behaviour - could be one effective way of encouraging more adults and families to proactively look after their long-term health."
Private medical insurance: News update: December 2008