Almost half of adults in the UK could have an unhealthy relationship with food, with the youngest generations most unhappy with their eating habits, according to new research from not-for-profit healthcare provider, Benenden Health.
Data shows that only 56% of adults think that their relationship with food is a healthy one, with men more likely to believe (64%) this than women (49%), whilst only 43% of 18-24 year olds are happy with their eating habits.
The research of 1,000 adults across the UK has highlighted just how early on in life individuals begin to question and challenge their relationship with food and comes at a time when the nation is already facing a mental health crisis, with almost half of Brits (42%) believing their mental wellbeing to be worse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The average age for UK adults to first consider losing weight was revealed to be 30, with a quarter of respondents (26%) saying that they were 16-25 when they first considered it, whilst only a fifth of Brits (22%) have never considered the prospect.
And whilst more than three quarters of UK adults (77%) have tried to lose weight with diets, only a fifth (21%) said that losing weight actually made them feel happier.
Following its findings, as we enter the new year, Benenden Health is encouraging individuals to consider their approach to a healthy lifestyle and be wary of unnecessary and unhelpful pressures and expectations when it comes to diet and body image.
Matron at Benenden Health, Cheryl Lythgoe, said: “It is no great surprise to find that so many individuals in the UK have an unhealthy relationship with food. From a young age – especially for more recent generations – we are surrounded by conversations about body image, diets and comparisons with others, which can challenge our perception of what is normal or desirable.
“Whether you are trying to lose weight or not, the best way to approach your diet is simply to ensure you are getting a good balance of food groups, vitamins and minerals and a good tip is to aim for a rainbow of colours on your plate.
“There is nothing wrong with losing weight if it is necessary for health reasons but dedicated diets and slimming programmes are often unsustainable and ultimately unnecessary in improving our health, not to mention the impact they can have on our wallets.
“The challenge and burden of constantly assessing our eating habits can also have a significant impact on our mental wellbeing with calorie counting often making us feel worse. Instead, remove these targets and look at making some simple lifestyle changes – whilst enjoying treats in moderation – enabling you to maintain a healthy weight and promote positive wellbeing.”