Half of overweight and a third of obese adults believe they are in very good or excellent health, unaware of the potential health risks their lifestyle brings, according to a new health report.
The findings come from Aviva’s first Health Check UK Report which tracks the physical and mental health of the nation through trends in diet, exercise, body mass index (BMI), illness and general wellbeing.
The report also shows the damaging effect that unhealthy levels of BMI are having on happiness and self-esteem. And while sedentary lifestyles and poor diet take their toll on waistlines, financial concerns are compounding the UK’s poor health as the leading cause of anxiety, depression and insomnia.
Denial of weight-related health issues
The research found that a high proportion of those with unhealthy BMI levels think they are healthy, with a third of obese and half of those who are overweight saying that they are in very good or even excellent health.
This is despite a significantly higher proportion of obese Britons visiting their GP for conditions known to be weight-related such as diabetes and high blood pressure, compared to those with a healthy BMI.
High blood pressure, thyroid complaints, back pain and depression are just some of the other things obese people are more likely to visit the doctor for than those with a healthy BMI.
5 a day: caffeine consumption greater than fruit and veg
What’s more is a quarter of the UK population do not even have a single portion of fruit or vegetable each day – a far cry from the 5 a day recommended by the government and the recent call for a minimum of 7 a day. Just one fifth meet the target of 5 a day.
More Britons however have at least five shots of caffeine every day, with 28% having at least five cups of tea or coffee as part of their daily routine.
Good intentions, lack of motivation
Losing weight is the nation’s biggest health ambition, with two in five people saying they want to improve their BMI. However, half of those classed as overweight and over a quarter of those who are obese have no desire to lose weight and are ignoring the need to change their diet and do more exercise.
Dr Doug Wright, medical director for Aviva UK Health, says:
“Although losing weight is the top health ambition for the UK as a whole, any plans to lead a healthier lifestyle are being neglected under the pressures of modern living. The nation is falling woefully short of hitting the recommended 5 a day target of fruit and vegetable portions and too many people are failing to fit proper exercise into their lives.
“Being overweight brings with it the potential for serious health conditions, yet a significant proportion of those with high BMI levels in the UK are living in denial by claiming they are in very good health and showing no desire to lose weight. The risks to their health are well known, with weight-related conditions including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and even some types of cancer.
“Many people are failing to grasp the real importance of taking control of their current and future health, by making changes to their diet and taking more exercise. By reducing the number of people in the UK who are overweight or obese, we can help stem the rise in weight-related illness and improve the overall happiness and wellbeing of our nation.”