This site is intended for health professionals only

Lack of public awareness of healthy living advice

Most people do not know the government guidelines for healthyeating, drinking and exercise, suggests a report from The NHSInformation Centre.

The report shows that:

  • Morethan two thirds of men and of women did not know or underestimated howmuch exercise they should be taking to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Less than a third of men and women knew the maximum amount of alcohol they should be drinking each day.
  • Whilemost adults knew they should eat five portions of fruit or vegetables aday, only 14% of men and 11% of women knew what constituted a portion.

The survey report, the Health Survey for England,monitors the health of the nation. The 2007 survey focused on knowledgeof and attitudes to key aspects of lifestyle behaviour – drinking,eating and physical activity.

On obesity, the report showed theproportion of adults who are obese increased from 13% for men and 16%for women in 1993 to 24% for both men and women in 2007.

Yet,despite the lack of awareness of official advice, figures published inthe report indicate both physical activity and consumption of fruit andvegetables have been increasing.

The survey also looked at theimpact of the recent smokefree legislation which was introduced in July2007. The report finds no evidence that fewer people smoke as a resultof the ban. However, cotinine levels in people's saliva show that,since the introduction of the ban, smokers may be smoking less.

Medicaldirector of The NHS Information Centre and practising GP, Dr MarkDavies, said: "It is important that people understand the healthimplications of the lifestyle choices they make. It is of concern thatthe messages of safe alcohol intake, appropriate exercise levels, andhealthy eating do not seem to be getting through to all parts of thepopulation.

"This is something the country needs to address if we are to avoid significant health problems in the near future."

Health Survey for England 2007