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  • Writer's pictureJane Webber Nutrition

Impact of behaviour on health

What is the impact of behaviour on health? The recent Covid 19 situation has highlighted the impact of underlying health problems when people became ill with the virus.

66% of the UK adult population do not reach the recommended levels of activity. 70% don’t eat the recommended 5 a day portions of fruit and veg a day.

26% are obese, 21% smoke and 27% of men and 18% of women drink more than the 14 units of alcohol each week.

Sounds pretty depressing doesn’t it? Some people think it is easy to change health behaviour and judge others by their own standards. However health behaviour are impacted by social, economics, environment (physical), individual characteristics, which are often outside of a person’s control.

Physical activity is overestimated by the general population when they are asked with about 30% of the population saying that they are physically active. However only 5% of the population when measured independently is physically active.

Smoking causes 18% of all deaths, directly or indirectly and costs the NHS £2.7bn (2014) and the economy £5.2bn.

Poor nutrition contributes to nearly 70,000 pre-mature deaths in the UK and costs the NHS £6bn a year. Improvements to nutrition could achieve cost savings of £1.3bn a year.

Obesity is not a behaviour but a consequence of other behaviours and we have seen a large increase of obese adults and children in the past 20 years, with the average female weighing 5kg more than she did in the 1990s. UK deaths linked to excess fat are 50% higher than in France and the cost to the UK economy is £15.8bn. Cost to the NHS is £4.2bn and double that of smoking.

I have stated a lot of figures in this blog and not everything is about saving the NHS money, however it is a known fact that if we improve the health of the nation, then the quality of life for each individual is better.

However it is not a quick fix for the government and not necessarily a vote winner. But to ignore the statistics, the negative impact on the physical and mental health of a nation cannot continue as the problem will only become worse.

Negative behaviours such as inactivity, lack of sleep etc., can reduce life expectancy by up to 14 years compared to no negative behaviours. Factors that influence behaviour include genetics, social norms, culture, physical environment, attitudes, and social interaction with others.

However it is important to understand how income, social status have a profound impact on health.

Over the next few months I will discuss in more detail how people can change their behaviours, what impacts them to change and what stages they go through before they make behavioural changes.

What negative habits do you have that you wish to change? Smoking, physical inactivity or weight gain? Have to struggled to change this behaviour and what steps did you take? Did they work for the long term or just for a short time?

I would love to hear your stories, so please comment below or message me.

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