While it seems being stressed is a way of life for today’s Brits, new research from Mintel on healthy lifestyles finds that it is the nation’s young who are suffering the most, with daily anxiety and stress peaking among 16-24-year-olds. Stress is almost universal, as 85% of Brits suffer from anxiety or stress at least sometimes, with three in 10 (29%) Brits suffering at least three times a week and 15% every day. But it is the young who are experiencing the highest levels of anxiety and stress, as a stressed-out 25% of 16-24-year-olds feel anxious or stressed every day. Meanwhile, it seems that age brings an element of calmness, as just 9% of over 55s say they feel anxious and stressed on a daily basis and a quarter (25%) experience no stress whatsoever. Among the most common ways of dealing with feelings of anxiety or stress are listening to music (44%, rising to 64% of 16-24s), going for a walk (39%) and eating comfort food (32%), the latter increasing to two in five (39%) women. However, it appears UK consumers are not finding enough time for relaxation as just a third (33%) of Brits spend time relaxing every day. And despite the perceived importance of mental health, just three in 10 (31%) say they feel mentally stimulated every day, while under half (46%) of consumers feel mentally stimulated less than three times a week, if at all. Richard Caines, Senior Food & Drink Analyst at Mintel, said: “Britain’s young are feeling pressure on several fronts including academic, work and financial factors, and for some this is causing anxiety and stress on a daily basis. The greater visibility of mental health issues seen in mainstream media can help drive awareness of less severe manifestations of anxiety and stress in consumers’ lives. High incidence of anxiety and stress and not finding enough time to relax suggest untapped space for brands to promote ways of relaxing. These can include products such as mindfulness apps, teas, bath and shower products, as well as adult colouring books.”

Brits fall short of their five a day

Just over half (51%) of the population describes their general health as somewhat or very healthy for a person of their age, while just 15% of Brits believe that they are somewhat or very unhealthy for their age. Getting enough sleep (69%), eating a healthy diet (68%) and regularly exercising (65%) are ranked as the top three habits for staying healthy. Despite these good intentions, only a fifth (22%) of consumers say they get enough sleep every day; with 45-54-year-olds (14%) the least likely to get daily amounts of sufficient sleep. While eating a healthy diet is seen as an important health factor, especially among women (73%) and the over-45s (73%), only a fifth (20%) of consumers say they eat five portions of fruit or vegetable daily. But despite being well short of the Government’s recommended daily intake, over six in ten (61%) people think they eat the right amount or more of vegetables and over half (53%) the right amount or more of fruit. And although two thirds of people put regular exercise among the factors most important for staying healthy and keeping well, only 14% of consumers exercise every day and 26% between three and six times a week. “Consumers have good intentions to get enough sleep, eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly; however, what happens in reality is a very different picture. This gap between perception and reality is highlighted by the fact that so few consumers believe that they are unhealthy for their age, despite the fact that the nation is suffering from an obesity epidemic. And despite the push to encourage more consumers to eat their ‘five a day’, very few Brits are adhering to the guidelines and even more incorrectly think that they are.” Richard continues.

Untapped potential for tech brands

Finally, although just under a tenth (9%) of people currently use apps with suggestions for swaps for healthier meals, more than four in ten (45%) who don’t currently use them are interested in doing so. People are also keen to find out more about apps that help manage stress, with two-fifths (41%) saying they’re interested in apps that help the learning or practising of mindfulness or meditation. Consumers aged 16-34 are the most likely to be interested in apps to help them manage anxiety or stress (57% versus an average of 44%). “Mintel highlights significant opportunities for using technology to help consumers lead more healthy lifestyles. Technology brands in particular can tap into consumer concerns by helping them monitor their emotions and by supporting mental health through apps, as well as through partnerships with relevant charities.” Richard concludes.
Press copies of Managing a Healthy Lifestyle UK report and interviews with Richard Caines, Senior Food & Drink Analyst, are available on request from the press office.