PruHealth study reveals Brits need a health kick start into the New Year

06 January 2009 / by Rachel Mason
Briton's perceptions of what it means to be healthy and actually being healthy are poles apart according to a leading UK health insurance provider.

In its Vitality Index, a major study into the impact of lifestyle, diet and fitness on general health and well being of British adults, PruHealth has found that while 69 per cent of Brits claim they are in good health, less than half – 47 per cent – actually have a good level of fitness.

In the South East, the difference is even more noticeable; while 73 per cent of people claim they have good levels of health and fitness, only 58 per cent have a healthy lifestyle, while less than half have a good level of fitness.

The report also revealed that only 24 per cent of people in the UK eat their recommended 'five a day' of fruit and veg, while a fifth smoke and two thirds are overweight. And of those who do exercise three times each week (52 per cent) almost a quarter do a workout of just 15 minutes or less.

Although most Brits (81 per cent) say they know what they should be doing to follow a healthy lifestyle, many aren't putting it into action, says PruHealth health insurance, blaming a lack of motivation, the cost, and not having enough time. More than half said free access to exercise and swimming classes would help, while just under half (49 per cent) claim cheaper fruit and vegetables would have an effect.

"It's staggering that so many people in Britain 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," said Shaun Matisonn, CEO of PruHealth.

"The vast majority of Britons say they know how to live healthier lifestyles, yet aren't listening to the advice around them, and it's this inertia that as a nation we need to target in order to encourage change," he said.

The fact that the report reveals time and cost as the key barriers to following a healthy lifestyle means that people may need incentives.

"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," said Mr Matisonn.

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