chaz1If you live in Britain you can’t escape the flood of advice from all quarters on how to lead a healthier lifestyle, and the resulting obsession with weight, diet, exercise, smoking and drinking.

The volume of media coverage is such is that, for most English-speaking adults, it would take a conscious determination to be wholly unaware of the issues.

According to Mintel, the official stats from the Department of Health in 2007 found 65% of men and 56% of women in England were overweight or obese based on Body Mass Index (BMI). Obesity levels stood at 23.6% of men and 24.4% of women. By 2010 – next year! – this is projected to rise to 33% of men and 28% of women, a cause of concern for national bodies and worry for many individuals.

On the positive side, the proportion of adult smokers continues to decline and is now about one in four: alcohol consumption has also dropped slightly over the past two years, influenced by health and fitness factors and price increases. More people are taking regular exercise.

Some 60% of us are confident we know what constitutes a healthy lifestyle, while over a quarter strive to live in a healthy way, keeping up with the latest advice and taking extra vitamins and supplements. Women in general are more attuned to health issues than men.

Mintel’s research suggest a substantial level of dissatisfaction with personal weight, or at least an acknowledgement of room for improvement; this is a major driver to good intentions, and New Year’s resolutions particularly, as the traditional time for a new start.

Overall, women are more willing than men to grab the chance of a new start, but our enthusiasm wanes with age, with over-45s being more jaded about the possibilities offered by a New Year resolution!
Mintel’s research shows a wide understanding of the link between eating habits and health and, by implication, weight. The obese are more aware than the rest of us that they should pay more attention to their health and diet, even though six in ten feel that they are now eating more healthily.

Diet is only one part of a healthier lifestyle, and evidence suggests that we are increasingly aware too of the need for exercise, with levels of participation are rising in line with wider awareness of healthy issues.

Only the over-55s rate making sure they have a healthy lifestyle among their five top priorities, and this translates into action. The over-55s include the highest proportion of adults eating healthily according to currently accepted advice on fruit and vegetables, oily fish, fat and so on.

The Grocery Trader

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