The bitter-sweet truth
Almost 7 out of 10 men are overweight or obese (66.4%) and almost 6 in 10 women (57.5%). Statistics show that the trend in obesity in both men and women climbed steadily from the early 90s, but has somewhat levelled off since 2012. The UK also has the 3rd highest rates of obesity in the EU. As with children, sugar is cited as a major cause of adult obesity and excess weight. Adults are reportedly consuming around twice the maximum recommended level.
Motivations to keep healthy
The vast majority of people taking part in the survey – 48% – were motivated to eat a good diet to promote better health and wellbeing, while 26% said it was to lose weight and look better. Just 7.2% admitted to not eating healthily. A range of other health reasons were cited by much smaller numbers of respondents – including 6% of people who said they ate healthily to reduce cholesterol, 2% to reduce the chances of developing type 2 diabetes and 2% to decrease their chances of developing heart disease.
The younger survey respondents were most eager to eat healthily to lose weight and look better – 41% with this reason dropping to just 17% of the 55+ age group who instead cited better health and wellbeing as their main motivation for eating a healthy diet (54%) In fact, numbers were fairly evenly split across all age groups in favour of healthy eating for vanity, health and wellbeing reasons.
How much do we think our genes are to blame?
Most respondents appear to think fate, or more accurately their genes, are responsible for their health, or lack of it: 49% believe genes dictate chances of getting diseases such as type 2 diabetes, with just 27% citing the role of diet in influencing health outcomes; 24% said they didn’t know either way. Science tells us that very few health conditions are only caused by genes – most are caused by the combination of genes and environmental factors including diet and exercise.
This is an attitude held across the age groups, with 50% (give or take a percentage point or two) believing genes to be the key influencing factor in their health.
Marginally more men (50%), than women (47%), believe genes to be the principal influencing factor. Approximately a quarter of each sex (23% of men and 24% of women) said they didn’t know which has the greatest influence.
Find out more about public attitudes to health and wellbeing in our National Health Report.