Medical insurance company finds Brits' health suffering due to credit crisis

03 September 2008 / by Rachael Stiles
The health of Britons is suffering as a result of the credit crisis which has tightened the nations' purse-strings and meant that people can no longer afford to look after their general health as a well as they were before the current problems in the UK economy unveiled themselves.

According to research from Prudential, which offers incentives such as discounted gym membership to its medical insurance customers to encourage them to stay fit and healthy, 11 million Brits are now facing a 'health crunch' as a result of the credit crunch which has put up a barrier to keeping fit.

A third of British adults said that they can no longer afford the costs entailed with exercise, and as many as 60 per cent said that their general health is being affected by the costs of a healthy lifestyle, such as gym membership and buying nutritious food.

Almost a quarter of Brits admitted that they can not afford to buy food that contains the same nutritional value as what they bought in the days before the economy started to unravel, and said that they are not maintaining the diet they would like to.

Food inflation has topped a record 13.7 per cent in the last 12 months since the credit crisis first began, so as many families strive to cut corners and save the pennies, one in five parents say that they are ditching the organic vegetables and turning to cheaper alternatives such as frozen ready meals and convenience foods.

One in eight families have had to reduce the amount of vegetables they buy – two thirds of Brits believe that healthy foods are simply more expensive than other foods which are available in the shops and they have changed their shopping habits accordingly.

Brits are also cutting down on the exercise they participate in, because they can no longer afford to pay for fitness classes or paid-for sporting activities. And some Brits have opted to forsake day-to-day things like gym membership and better quality food so that they can still afford to escape the doom and gloom – not to mention the weather – by going on holiday.

"Our research shows that people's buying habits are clearly beginning to change as food costs rise and inflation increases." commented Katie Roswell, marketing director at PruHealth. "The worry is that the progression from credit to health crunch may worsen as people reduce outgoings by buying less fruit and vegetables, and continue to believe that all exercise is expensive."

But, all is not lost for the 14 per cent of Brits who are savvy enough to find alternative methods of exercise that don't cost as much, and making the effort to shop around for competitively priced vegetables, rather than settling for microwave meals.

Ms Roswell coninued: "Although it's a time of belt-tightening for many people, there are some ways of maintaining your health and wellbeing without breaking the bank. Looking out for deals on varieties of fruit and vegetables whose prices have dropped, and taking advantage of cheaper ways of exercising, such as using the local swimming pool or by getting off the bus a stop early, can all help. And it's also key to take a break sometimes from the stresses and strains of everyday life and treat ourselves to some quality time with family or friends."

PruHealth medical insurance offers savings for its customers on Eurostar tickets so that they can get away from it all, Cineworld cinema tickets so that they can have a cheap night out, and Vitality points, as an incentive for eating well, exercising regularly and taking health screens.

© Fair Investment Company Ltd