Most likely to consider themselves heavy
People from the UK and Ireland are more likely to consider themselves overweight than people from anywhere else in Europe. Some 60% of Britons and 62% of Irish people consider themselves at least ‘a little overweight’, according to the Global Health and Wellness Survey from information and insights company Nielsen.
In more detail, 22% of Britons consider themselves ‘somewhat’ or ‘very’ overweight, while 38% say they’re a ‘little’ overweight.
The study, which polled more than 30,000 Internet respondents in 60 countries, shows that most people in Europe (52%) consider themselves overweight, while Polish (35%) and Russian (40%) people are the least likely to regard themselves overweight.
Fewer people trying to lose weight
Less than half (46%) of Britons surveyed are trying to lose weight compared to 51% three years ago. Despite being the second most likely people in Europe to think they’re overweight, Britons are only joint 17th when it comes to trying to lose weight among the 32 European countries covered in the survey. Israelis (57%) are the most likely to be trying to lose weight, Latvians the least likely (37%).
Among Britons trying to lose weight, changing diet (82%) is the most popular method for losing weight (slightly down from 84% three years ago) followed by doing physical exercise (66%, down from 72%).
The percentage taking diet pills/bars/shakes has more than doubled (from 3% to 7%), while taking medicine prescribed by a doctor has doubled (from 2% to 4%).
Nielsen’s UK head of business and retailer insight Mike Watkin, comments:
“Not only are fewer Britons trying to lose weight, it seems they’re slowly becoming increasingly reliant on easier fixes at the expense of harder work such as changing diet and exercise.”
Among Britons changing their diet, eating less chocolate and sugar (72%) is the most popular tactic followed by cutting down on fats (70%) and eating more natural, fresh foods (53%). Eating smaller portions of the same foods is cited by 43%, while 37% eat less processed food. Around one-in-10 follow a low carb/high fat diet (9%) or another diet (11%), while 8% use a slimming plan such as Weight Watchers.
Compared to Europeans, Britons are twice as likely to use a slimming plan and 28% more likely to cut down on processed foods, but 40% less likely to follow a low carb/high fat diet to lose weight.
Sugar, salt, artificial additives biggest health factors in purchase decisions
When asked to rate how important various health attributes are in affecting the foods and products they buy, 31% of UK respondents cited ‘low or sugar free’ as very important followed by ‘low salt/sodium’ (29%), ‘no artificial flavours/colours’ and ‘natural flavours’ (both 28%).
Top 10 health factors affecting UK food purchasing
E.g. 31% of Britons cite “low/no sugar” as being a very important factor in deciding which foods they buy
Among the 27 food health attributes covered in the survey, Britons are most willing to pay a premium price for products that are ‘all natural’, ‘gluten-free’ or organic. Britons are much less likely to pay a premium for healthy attributes in foods than Europeans as a whole.
Given the importance attached to “good-for-you” products, these are the most strongly positioned for growth in the future. Over the next six months, Britons are most likely to buy (from a choice of 25 food categories covered in the survey) more fruit and vegetables (25%), nuts/seeds, seafood (both 16%) and yogurt (12%).
Salty snacks are most likely to see a decline in purchasing (cited by 32% of respondents) followed by chocolate, biscuits and cakes/crackers/pies (all 28%), sugar sweets (25%), ice cream and ready to eat/frozen meals (both 23%).