Eight in 10 middle-aged Britons 'are overweight or exercise too little'
Public Health England launches campaign aimed at 40 to 60-year-olds, 83% of whom weigh too much or drink above guidelines.
Eight out of 10 of middle-aged people in the UK weigh too much, drink too much or do not exercise enough, analysis from Public Health England (PHE) shows.
Modern life is harming the health of the nation, according to the organisation, which has launched a campaign, One You, aimed at the 83% of 40 to 60-year-olds – 87% of men and 79% of women in this age bracket – who are overweight or obese, exceed the chief medical officer’s alcohol guidelines or are physically inactive.
Obesity is one of the biggest problems for this group: 77% of men and 63% of women in middle age are overweight or obese. Obesity in adults has risen by 16% in the past 20 years. Research shows that many people cannot identify a healthy body, suggesting being overweight has become the new normal.
Prof Sir Muir Gray, a clinical adviser to One You, said: “The demands of modern day living are taking their toll on the health of the nation and it’s those in middle age that are suffering the consequences most, as their [ill-]health reaches worrying new levels.
“More than 15 million Britons are living with a long-term health condition, and busy lives and desk jobs make it difficult to live healthily. But just making a few small changes will have significant benefits to people’s health now and in later life.”
Many more middle-aged people are being diagnosed with diabetes, with the rate among the 40-60 age group doubling in the past 20 years. Obese adults are more than five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, which 90% of adults with diabetes have, than those who are a healthy weight – have a body mass index of between 18.5 and 24.9.
Dan Howarth, the head of care at Diabetes UK, said: “We know that people often bury their heads in the sand when it comes to their general health, but the consequences of doing nothing can be catastrophic.
“There are an estimated 11.9 million people at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the UK because of their lifestyle and more than one million who already have the condition, but have not yet been diagnosed.
“Type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications such as amputation, blindness, heart attack, stroke and kidney disease. We know how hard it is to change the habits of a lifetime, but we want people to seek the help they need to lose weight, stop smoking and take more exercise.”
People are being urged to consider their health and the simple steps they can take to improve it in the run-up to the new year. The online quiz “how are you?” helps participants assess their health and offers advice on how they can eat better, be more active, stop smoking and consider their alcohol consumption.
After receiving an individual’s lifestyle information, the website provides a health score and links to free and personalised information, apps and tools.
More than 1.1 million people have taken the quiz so far and been directed to download apps including Couch to 5K, Alcohol Checker and Easy Meals, where appropriate.
Prof Kevin Fenton, the director of health and wellbeing at PHE, said:“People are busy with work, with families and with the daily grind, and sometimes their own health is the least of their priorities.
“The how are you quiz will help anyone who wants to take a few minutes to take stock and find out quickly where they can take a little action to make a big difference to their health.”