Modern Life Responsible for Eight in 10 Middle-aged Adults Being ‘Unhealthy’

Eight out of 10 middle-aged people in the UK either weigh too much, drink too much or do not exercise enough, according to analysis from Public Health England (PHE).

PHE says that modern life is harming the health of the nation and has launched a campaign, One You, aimed at the 83% of UK 40 to 60-year-olds who are physically inactive, overweight or obese or exceed the chief medical officer’s alcohol guidelines.

For this middle-aged group, obesity is a huge problem, with 77% of men and 63% of women either overweight or obese.

Over the past 20 years, obesity in UK adults has risen by 16%. The situation has got so bad that research shows many people cannot now identify a “health body” suggesting that being overweight has become the new norm.

Furthermore, the diabetes rate among middle-aged people has doubled in the last 20 years in England. Today, 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 – denoted by them having a body mass index (BMI) of between 18.5 and 24.9.

Type 2 Diabetes Can Lead to Serious Complications

Dan Howarth, head of care at Diabetes UK, said that people often bury their heads in the sand when it comes to their general health, despite the consequences of doing so being potentially catastrophic. He said outlined that there are an estimated 11.9 million people at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the UK because of their lifestyle.

“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,” he said.

Professor 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.

He added that more than 15 million people in the UK are living with a long-term health condition, with desk jobs and busy lives making it difficult for people to live healthily. However, he said that just a few small changes can have a significant positive impact on people’s health both now and in later life.

PHE has launched an online quiz “how are you?”, which asks people about lifestyle information and gives a health score based on the answers, as well as links to free localised information, apps and tools.

So far, more than 1.1 million people have taken the online quiz and been directed to download apps such as Alcohol Checker, Easy Meals and Couch to 5K, where appropriate.

The message remains the same, it is important for people to exercise, eat healthily and cut down on smoking and drinking.


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