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It’s the time of year when the nation traditionally resolves to eat more healthily and do more exercise, but half of young Brits admit they simply can’t be bothered to lead a healthier lifestyle. According to new research from Mintel on healthy lifestyles, 49% of under-25s say that it is a sheer lack of motivation which is preventing them from following healthy habits more often.

And it’s the nation’s young women who are the most likely to say that a lack of motivation is the reason they’re not as healthy as they could be, with some six in ten (57%) women aged 16-24 admitting they are not following healthy habits more often due to this reason. This is in stark contrast to the nation’s over-65s, just 21% of whom agree lack of motivation is a contributing factor to not following a healthy lifestyle more often. Meanwhile, 51% of over-65s say they already do as much as they can to follow healthy habits, compared to just 6% of under-25s.

And while feeling self-conscious, for instance when exercising (13%), ranks fairly low overall as a barrier to healthier lifestyles among Brits, one in three (33%) female under-25s say that this prevents them from following healthier habits more often.

Cost (26%), “already doing as much as I can” (24%), lack of time (21%) and “it’s boring” (17%) make up the nation’s top five reasons for not following healthy habits more often.

Overall, half (47%) of Brits say they are as fit as they need to be.

Emma Clifford, Associate Director of Food and Drink at Mintel, said:

“The generational difference highlighted in our research reflects the health implications of lifestyle choices are holding far more relevancy and immediacy for older consumers. Meanwhile, many health issues linked to unhealthy habits are a distant and ambiguous prospect for young adults – despite the potential threat to their future wellbeing – and so reducing the incentive to minimise these risks in their day-to-day lives. Keeping as healthy as possible is more of a pressing concern for older consumers than their younger counterparts, with fewer distractions in their path – especially for retirees.”

Six in ten support taxing unhealthy food and drink

But while a lack of motivation is hindering healthy lifestyles, it seems that many consumers are in favour of both the carrot and the stick approaches to help them improve their diet, as some six in ten (60%) Brits support taxes on unhealthy food and drink.

Meanwhile, tips on how to incorporate small changes into their lifestyles to make them healthier resonate widely, appealing to 65% of adults overall and 71% of under-45s. This comes as one in twenty (6%) Brits say they don’t really know what makes up healthy habits.

Consumers also want to be incentivised: 63% of adults would like brands to reward them for leading a healthy lifestyle, climbing to 76% of under-25s. Employers are seen to have a role to play in this area, with a sizeable 62% of workers wanting their employer to encourage healthy habits at work.

“The UK is facing an obesity timebomb and consumers recognise that decisive action is needed to combat this problem, even if it hits their pockets. Over 6 months after the soft drinks sugar tax was introduced and reports of a potential ‘pudding tax’ being considered, consumers are keen on the idea of taxing them in order to discourage unhealthy lifestyles. It is clear that consumers really want help in cutting through all the noise around healthy lifestyles, with more guidance in making healthier choices as well as rewards for doing so.” Adds Emma.

Keeping up appearances

Looking good is a particularly strong incentive for leading a healthier lifestyle. Around half (48%) of women say “wanting to improve their appearance” would encourage them to lead a healthier lifestyle, compared to 35% of men. This jumps to 55% of under-25s.

Proactively enhancing their emotional wellbeing is also an attractive prospect for the younger generation. Some 40% of under-25s would be encouraged to be healthier more often to “improve their state of mind”, compared to the average of 29%. This rises to 45% among those who describe their current habits in managing their mental wellbeing as unhealthy.

“Relatively short-term and tangible benefits to healthier habits are particularly compelling motivations for the younger generation. These include being able to see positive physical results and the feelgood factor linked to making healthy choices.” Concludes Emma.