An app a day keeps the doctor away: 16-24s more likely to trust websites for health advice than professionals

October 27, 2016

Health professionals have long been a trusted source of advice, but now it seems that young Brits are looking online for reliable information about healthy living. Indeed, new research from Mintel reveals that younger consumers are more likely to trust online health information over doctors or pharmacists. When asked which source of information about healthy living they trust the most, 63% of 16-24-year-olds said health professionals, while 65% said health websites and apps.

Overall, doctors, nurses and pharmacists remain the most trusted sources, with 67% of all Brits trusting health professionals as a source of information about healthy living. This is followed by health websites and apps (61%), family, friends and colleagues (54%), personal trainers and fitness specialists (42%), books (41%) and online health blogs/forums (41%).

67% of all Brits trust health professionals as a source of information about healthy living

Social media is also being tapped for advice, as 20% of Brits indicate that they trust social media platforms as a source of information about healthy living, rising to 29% of 25-34-year-olds.

Jack Duckett, Senior Consumer Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel, said:

“With younger consumers increasingly pushed for time, it follows that when looking for information on health they exhibit a preference for time-saving resources. Furthermore, as doctor’s appointments have become more difficult to schedule, online sources offer a quick fix for an age group who are already well aligned with the digital world.”

Today, 34% of Brits deem themselves more healthy than they were a year ago, with agreement with the sentiment rising significantly amongst 16-34-year-olds (45%).

As rising stress levels have left Brits desperate for a solution, mindfulness has become something of a buzzword in recent years. Indeed, 16% of Brits have tried a mindfulness technique and it seems that parents with young children in particular are trying to get some peace of mind, as this rises to a quarter (25%) of parents with children aged five and under.

Online personal training programmes, like The Body Coach, have also been attracting interest, as almost one in ten (8%) have tried an online personal training programme and a further 8% have tried a health ingredient subscription service.

However, when it comes to leading a healthier lifestyle, diet is top of mind for many Brits. Indeed, a third (33%) of adults have tried to eat less meat, rising to 41% of women, meanwhile, a quarter (24%) haven’t, but would be interested in trying to cut meat eaten. A quarter (24%) have increased the amount of protein in their diet and 32% haven’t tried but would be interested in doing so.

“Aside from the environmental impact, scientists are increasingly suggesting that too much meat could be hazardous for people’s health. Interest in the trend has undoubtedly been driven by the significant media attention the issue has received in recent years, while a number of high profile celebrities have also made it fashionable to explore vegetarian and vegan diets” Jack continues.

Cost is the number one barrier for healthy eating as over a quarter (26%) of Brits say healthy foods and ingredients are too expensive. This is followed by the belief that healthy food isn’t filling enough (22%) and that it doesn’t make much difference to body weight (21%). Meanwhile, the top barriers consumers face to being active are that they find it hard to stay motivated (33%), they’re too tired to exercise (24%), gym and exercise classes are too expensive (24%), and it’s hard to find the time to exercise and be active (21%).

“For many people today, healthy eating is just a means to losing weight, which can therefore lead to frustration if it does not translate into weight loss. Similarly, with consumers indicating that they struggle to find the time to exercise, they can feel defeated before they have even started. As such, brands and retailers looking to encourage consumers into healthier habits can benefit from highlighting how small lifestyle changes can often be a more effective way for people to create sustainable changes to their lives.” Jack concludes.

Press review copies of Mintel’s Healthy Lifestyles UK 2016 report and interviews with Senior Consumer Lifestyles Analyst Jack Duckett are available on request from the press office.

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