The conveniences of modern life in the U.S. may be getting in the way of 2016 New Year’s resolutions, as new research from Mintel reveals that 43 percent of Americans agree that living a modern lifestyle makes it very difficult to be healthy. Further, 80 percent agree that being healthy requires sacrifices.
Some of the barriers cited by consumers looking to improve their health include lack of understanding and boredom. Two in five (40 percent) Americans agree that “there is so much information on health out there, I don’t know where to turn,” while one quarter (24 percent) get bored quickly doing the same exercises.
Barriers aside, as Americans pursue a healthier lifestyle, there exist misconceptions about current health status: one third (35 percent) of Americans age 20 and older are obese (i.e. Body Mass Index of at least 30), yet 88 percent of adults consider themselves healthy. What’s more, one third (33 percent) of consumers report they are very healthy, with more than two in five (44 percent) reporting that they maintain a healthy weight.
“Americans believe that living a modern lifestyle impedes their ability to be healthy, with some feeling as if they’re doomed to fail,” says Lauren Bonetto lifestyles and leisure analyst at Mintel. “While technology has exponentially increased the amount of easily accessible health information, some consumers find it difficult to tell good information from bad and feel overwhelmed by what’s at their disposal. It’s essential for health brands to communicate the importance of reliable information—whether it be from the Internet, a healthcare professional, or some other source—to ensure consumers make the best decisions for their overall well-being.”
While nearly two in five consumers report that there’s always more they could do to be healthy (38 percent), Mintel research reveals Americans are indeed taking proactive measures to achieve better health. In fact, more than half of Americans say they eat a healthy diet (52 percent) and exercise regularly (53 percent). Other actions consumers report taking in order to live a healthy lifestyle focus on relaxation (49 percent), maintaining a work/life balance (48 percent), and focusing on mental health (43 percent).
Further, consumers agree that society is changing, and a healthy lifestyle may not mean what it once did: 55 percent of consumers agree that society is becoming more accepting of different body types. What’s more, two thirds (66 percent) of Americans base how healthy they are on how they feel rather than how they look, potentially leading to stronger beliefs that health equates with happiness and feeling good. Mintel research shows that “feel better” is the main motivation for consumers to be healthy (70 percent), followed by “be happier” (58 percent), while 55 percent of consumers are motivated to “look better.”
“Consumers connect their health with overall happiness and are taking a variety of steps to improve their well-being, including eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly. As such, brands using messaging that emphasizes feeling better and being happier could succeed in reaching consumers on a more personal and emotional level,” Bonetto says.
Mintel research reveals that age also plays a significant role in how consumers view their personal health and their motivations for living a healthy lifestyle. Seven in 10 Millennials (69 percent) agree living a healthy lifestyle is expensive (versus 58 percent of consumers overall). Additionally, Millennials (53 percent) are overwhelmingly more likely than consumers overall (37 percent) to see if health problems will resolve themselves rather than seek medical attention. These attitudes are aided by three in five Millennials (62 percent) agreeing they are more informed about their health than the average person. Despite this, Millennials are less likely than consumers overall to eat a healthy diet (45 percent) and get regular exercise (48 percent).
“Mintel research suggests that Millennials may be lulled into a false sense of security with their health due to their age as they tend to ‘ride out’ health problems. This highlights an opportunity for brands to help Millennials establish better health habits to ensure they achieve long-term overall health. Brands should also keep in mind that Millennials tend to be more motivated by looking better when compared to older consumers,” Bonetto says.