Lent failing to turn Brits into healthy Easter bunnies



After 40 days of disciplined dedication, the prospect of Easter goodies will signal the end of abstinence for the estimated 15 million Brits who gave up unhealthy habits this Lent. New research from Bupa reveals 2 in 5 (40%) people who gave something up won’t stick to it beyond this Easter, where over 1 in 10 (14%) abstainers only did it to scoop cash from a bet.

There are numerous reasons why people plan on throwing in the health towel after Lent; Over a third (34%) say it’s been too hard, nearly a fifth (18%) say there will be no pressure on them to continue after lent has finished, and a third (34%) say they could only give-up for a short time. The study also revealed that men (31%) are nearly twice as likely as women (17%) to use Lent for a once-a-year health kick.

Nearly half of the country (45%) admit their motivation for giving something up for Lent or in the short-term is to improve their health. Yet worryingly the research found that nearly a third of respondents (28%) still don’t believe a healthy lifestyle is actually worthwhile because they don’t see a direct benefit.

Dr Dominic Gonzalez, Senior Regional Physician at Bupa’s Glasgow Health Clinic, said:

“Lent is a great time to set yourself a challenge, and make changes to improve your health such as not smoking or drinking alcohol. Patients often report to me that they feel much better even after just a few days. For longer-term health benefits, consider how you can make any healthy changes a habit for life, not just for lent. Whether that’s eating more healthily, limiting your alcohol intake to within sensible limits with several alcohol-free days a week, or joining a new exercise class – there are plenty of ways that you can make a change that you’ll find it easy to stick with. ”

The Bupa research also looked into the wider health habits of the nation, identifying that the unhealthiest time of the week for 18% of us is 8pm on a Saturday night. The average person consumes triple their usual amount of alcohol and smokers smoke nearly 50% more than normal on the unhealthiest day. On this day, a quarter (26%) of us don’t bother to exercise and one in three (34%) of the UK will over indulge in takeaways.

Dr Dominic Gonzalez continued:

“In general terms, it should be about moderation. We all need to enjoy ourselves, but at the same time we need to try and avoid cancelling out all of the good we do on healthier days. It’s easy to justify unhealthy habits by ‘making up for it’ on other days, but the truth is, overall this strategy potentially makes our health worse in the long run, or at best, no better. ”

One in five (20%) confessed to slipping into bad habits when we feel down, stressed or when left to our own devices with children and partners out of sight. Moreover, one in four lapse into unhealthy habits as a way of rewarding ourselves (25%), with 62% putting good habits on hold for a night out as a way to unwind.

On the contrary, the findings prove that mid-week is when we are at our healthiest and most controlled, with Wednesday at 10am being when we feel our best. During the week, 30% admit trying to ration treats, hoping to avoid snacking. However, abstaining is harder than it seems, with over half (51%) grabbing our first treat before lunch, with mid-mornings being the hardest time to resist.

The top five factors that leave Brits feeling healthiest are:

– Exercising (53%)
– Having a good night’s sleep/ early night (54%)
– Eating healthy food (42%)
– Have a break from drinking (17%)
– Spending time with friends and family (17%)

Full press release on www.bupa.com