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Stressed and Sedentary Lifestyles Increase as Recession Appears to Take its Toll on Britain’s Health

May 11, 2009
    LONDON, May 11 /PRNewswire/ --
    - Health of the Nation has Declined by Two Points in the Last Six Months
    - Britain is Overwhelmed, Overworked and Overweight
    - 1.9 Million More Brits Leading Unhealthy Lives Than Six Months Ago

The nation appears to be stuck in a downward spiral of unhealthy
lifestyles as increasingly stressed Britons may be looking to save time and
money by cutting back on exercise and healthy foods in the current economic
climate.

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http://www.lansons.com/press/pruhealth/recession-lifestyle-release.htm

According to PruHealth’s bi-annual Vitality Index* – which tracks the
nation’s health trends across stress, exercise, diet, smoking, health
knowledge and check-ups – the health of the nation has declined by two points
since July 2008 to a health rating of just 59 per cent today. Worryingly,
nearly one in five (18 per cent) Brits now admit they live unhealthy
lifestyles, an increase of 4 per cent in just six months.**

Overworked and overwhelmed

It seems the recession is leaving people not only overworked, but
increasingly overwhelmed. In the last six months the percentage of Brits
saying they are under a great deal or a significant amount of stress has
increased from 38 per cent to 40 per cent. As confidence in the economy has
decreased it is perhaps of little surprise that almost half (44 per cent) of
Brits report their stress levels have increased

Half (50 per cent) of these stressed adults disclose that stress is
affecting their personal life and many now feel that it is the greatest
health risk to the nation (10 per cent). Perhaps unsurprisingly, two in five
(41 per cent) people suffering from stress put their increased stress levels
down to their money worries and 22 per cent say this is down to increased
workload with the same number citing redundancy worries.

Interestingly, it is those in poor health who have seen the most
significant rise in their stress levels, up from 56 per cent to 64 per cent.
Those in good health cited only a slight rise from 32 per cent to 34 per cent.

Exercise on the wane

The problems of increased stress are being exacerbated by lack of
exercise. The number of people reporting that they never exercise has
increased from 11 per cent to 14 per cent in just six months. Over a quarter
(28 per cent) of adults blame work commitments for their lack of exercise. At
a time when exercise can be used to help decrease stress levels, it appears
people are exercising even less due to both time and money pressures.

Of those who do exercise, less than a third (29 per cent) exercise four
times a week or more and the percentage of adults doing the
government-recommended 30 minutes of exercise each session has fallen
significantly from 34 per cent to 29 per cent in just six months.

Commenting on the findings, Dr David Grainger, Senior Fellow, Cambridge
University
, said: “In just six months there has been a marked widening of the
‘health gap’ as lifestyle improvements evaporate. Replicated across the
entire adult population of the UK, these findings suggest a staggering two
million more people have an unhealthy lifestyle than six months ago. The most
likely cause? Economic recession.”

Food for thought

With the threat of an obesity epidemic still on the horizon, the
percentage of adults eating a healthy balanced diet has also dropped from 50
per cent to 47 per cent.

Almost half of Brits (47 per cent) say they struggle to eat the
recommended “5-a-day” servings of fresh fruit and vegetables; only 24 per
cent manage to eat their 5 portions on a daily basis and alarmingly a fifth
(21 per cent) only get their daily intake of fresh fruit and veg once a week
or less.

Primarily, it’s the perceived cost of exercising and eating healthily
that is driving more people to cut exercise and healthy eating out of their
daily routines. Over half (56 per cent) of Britons feel they cannot currently
afford the added expenses associated with being healthy, such as gym
memberships and super-foods, and over one in three (37 per cent) say they
find it hard to take care of themselves due to their busy schedule. Sixty one
per cent of people simply feel healthy foods are more expensive than the
unhealthy alternatives.

Shaun Matisonn, chief executive at PruHealth, comments: “Not only are
increased financial and time pressures taking a toll on our stress levels,
but they are also having an impact on the amount of exercise people are doing
and the content of our diets too. However, it’s a lack of health
self-awareness that is the key issue. Three-quarters of people see the health
of themselves and their loved ones as a key priority, but for the majority it
would take a diagnosis of ill health to motivate any significant change of
lifestyle.

“Finding a way to motivate a change in lifestyle is the biggest hurdle.
We need to find a way of helping people to stop thinking about what they
should be doing for their health and actually doing it. We need to set
achievable targets, this way people can take action now to prevent illness,
rather than waiting to be diagnosed with a problem.”

The information contained in Prudential UK’s press releases is intended
solely for journalists and should not be used by consumers to make financial
decisions. Full consumer product information can be found at Error! Hyperlink
reference not valid.

Notes to Editors:

*The research was carried out on behalf of PruHealth, the insurer that
rewards policyholders for engaging in healthy behaviour, by Ipsos MORI. A
nationally representative sample of 3,034 GB adults were questioned online in
January 2009. Results are weighted to be representative of the GB adult
population. Seasonal variations may affect some responses. **4% of 48million
UK adults is 1.9million people

To construct the Vitality Scorecard, six different areas (exercise, diet,
smoking, stress, check-ups/screenings and health knowledge) were surveyed and
equally weighted to create an Index. The Index is a single number (59 per
cent) that represents, in the main, the aggregate behaviour of those people
surveyed, together with a smaller attitudinal component around exercise. This
attitudinal component can be an important predictor in itself of the nation’s
future health, as intentions around exercise can quickly shape positive
behaviours. An improvement in the Index over time will indicate that the
population is behaving in a more healthy manner, and is likely to have
improved health (e.g. lower incidence of chronic disease) in the future. As
such, the Index becomes a lead indicator for health trends.

About PruHealth

PruHealth was launched in October 2004 as a joint venture between
Prudential and Discovery Holdings from South Africa. Since launch, PruHealth
has grown quickly. It now covers over 190,000 lives and in a sample of its
individual customers, one third said they had changed their behaviour for the
better because of its Vitality reward scheme which encourages policyholders
to look after their health.

    - Health of the nation has declined by two
      points in the last six months

    - Britain is overwhelmed, overworked and overweight

    - 1.9 million more Brits leading unhealthy lives than six months ago

SOURCE PruHealth


Source: newswire



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