POSTED: January 08 2016
Quick fixes, snacking and confusion over food content – why Brits aren’t heeding the healthy lifestyle message

Quick fixes, snacking and confusion over food content – why Brits aren’t heeding the healthy lifestyle message

More than a third of UK adults want to lose weight but are shunning long-term lifestyle changes such as a more balanced diet and increased exercise in favour of quick fixes, snacking and skipping meals, research from Aviva shows. Aviva’s research indicates that only 43% of UK adults are a healthy weight – making dieting a popular choice when it comes to New Year’s resolutions.

Although more than a third (36%) of UK adults say they want to lose weight or improve their BMI, only 16% are motivated to eat a more balanced diet and 13% to exercise more regularly – suggesting people are looking for ‘quick fixes’ to lose weight rather than working on the underlying problems to their diet and fitness habits. Additionally, almost one in five (16%) say they sometimes exercise purely to compensate for over-eating rather than to get any health benefits.

Poor dietary habits are underpinned by a lack of knowledge, with 71% saying they don’t know how many calories they eat and 24% saying they don’t understand what food labels really mean. At the same time, under a quarter (22%) of adults are getting their five-a-day of fruit and vegetables but 32% eat snacks like crisps or chocolates at least once a day and more than one in five (23%) consume a fizzy drink every day.

More than one in three adults (36%) want to lose weight, with women more likely to have this ambition than men (42% vs. 30% men). A fifth (22%) have tried popular diets to lose weight, rising to 31% of women (vs. 13% of men). A quarter (26%) sometimes skip meals altogether. Long-term lifestyle changes to manage weight are shunned with only 16% wanting to eat a more balanced diet (women 21% vs 11% men). Even fewer want to go to the gym or exercise more regularly (13%). Almost a third (27%) blame their busy lifestyle on not being able to prepare healthy meals, while over half (51%) say healthy food is sometimes too expensive.

More than seven in ten (72%) people exercise at least once a week. However, 17% never exercise, rising to 28% of obese people. Common barriers to exercise are finding it boring or hard work (59%), being too tired (43%) and struggling to find the time to exercise (41%). More than two in five (42%) don’t know how much exercise they should be doing. Nearly a third (29%) aren’t concerned about exercising, as long as they look or feel good. Men are more likely to agree with this (32%) than women (26%). Almost one in five (16%) exercise purely to compensate for over-eating rather than to get any health benefits.

Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director for Aviva UK Health says:

“After the indulgence of Christmas, motivation to become fitter and healthier is strong at the beginning of the year, but tends to fade away after a few months. Many people end up abandoning their resolution – along with their unused gym membership. However, there’s a good reason why people should make this resolution stick in 2016. As a nation, we’re becoming more and more overweight, which means we are at a higher risk of developing life-threatening illnesses such as type II diabetes and heart disease.

“Many say they want to lose weight, but aren’t prepared to change their diet or up their exercise levels to achieve this. Quick fixes like crash diets might yield results in the short-term, but aren’t a formula for long-term health and keeping weight off. With our busy lifestyles, it can seem hard to find the time to cook healthy meals or exercise, but it is well worth investing the time and effort. Your body will reap the rewards and, most importantly, be less at risk of serious illness.”

Full news release on www.aviva.co.uk