Health Shame sees Brits making up 'lifestyle lies'

04 January 2008 / by Verity G
Brits are less than truthful about their unhealthy lifestyles with almost half claiming to be thinner, fitter or non-smokers in order to secure their dream jobs or get asked out on a date, according to Norwich Union.

In a report entitled The Norwich Union 'Health Shame' released today, the building society revealed that four in five people believe that appearing healthy makes you more attractive while 28 per cent of people questioned said they feared they would never get a partner if they didn't fib about their health.

But it isn't just to secure a relationship that sees porkpie-telling Brits bend the truth. Two in five respondents said that they believed that the truth would damage their prospects of getting a new job.

Family, friends are doctors are also on the receiving end of the fibs with over half of people admitting that they are so ashamed of their slothful lifestyles they regularly lie about their weight (36 per cent), the amount of exercise they do or junk food they eat (28 per cent) their alcohol consumption (24 per cent) while 14 per cent fib about their smoking habits.

Commenting on the Norwich Union study, psychologist Corinne Sweet says: "People can minimise their bad habits when put on the spot at the doctor's or when registering at the gym because they fear facing the truth about their behaviour, or feel guilty or embarrassed, about what they're really doing to their health.

"Some people convince themselves they're better than they are, but some downright lie, hoping to get away with it. The problem is, being economical with the truth about your bad habits means you won't do anything to improve your health. Plus, you may be sitting on a health time bomb, like heart disease, without realising, until it's too late."

It appears that social pressure is responsible for the vast majority of lies with nine in ten saying they feel the need to appear healthy while a further 84 per cent acknowledge that these days people are more competitive about how healthy they are.

However, while lying about such things may appear harmless, the study found that filling in forms is the situation when we are most likely to lie about our health with an honest 15 per cent saying they have or might not have been entirely truthful when filling in forms for insurance policies.

Willie Mowatt, Director of Protection at Norwich Union, who led the study, comments: "We all want others to think we are healthy but it becomes dangerous when our claims do not match reality. Exaggerating, or omitting to provide information on insurance policy forms can render them void, so it means that you may be paying out money to cover a policy that is invalid and will never pay out.

"Finding out that you will not receive money from a policy can be distressing as well as financially crippling. So it's vital people disclose their full medical history at the outset of the policy, And policyholders who have given up smoking for 12 months or more can even save money if they notify their insurance about this healthy switch."

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