Member news: New study from Benenden reveals how dismissive the British public are of Government health guidelines

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

In results from a report released today, 28 June 2016, by UK ICMIF member Benenden, major contradictions have emerged between the British public’s attitudes towards responsibility for their own health and their reactions to Government-set guidelines.

On the one front, 71% of respondents feel they are doing enough to look after their own health and wellbeing. Yet, in stark contrast, the same report reveals that 73% don’t eat five portions of fruits and vegetables a day, a quarter do exercise less than once a month, 8% drink alcohol every day and 75% don’t get their recommended 8 hours of sleep.

Marc Bell, Chief Executive Officer at Benenden (pictured on the right with ICMIF CEO Shaun Tarbuck at the recent Why Gen Y? conference, hosted by Benenden), said: “These results have been revealed against a backdrop of continual media stories highlighting contradictions between medical advice and Government advice on health. No wonder, then, that our survey reveals a dismissive attitude from the general public towards UK Government health guidelines.”

Looking more in-depth, the general public has a particularly dismissive attitude towards Government attempts to guide people towards a healthy lifestyle, with 62% believing the Government isn’t doing enough or 64% believing the Government isn’t taking the right approach. 44% even think the Government doesn’t have a role to play at all in supporting personal responsibility.

Marc Bell continued: “Perhaps the public has become confused when guidelines on alcohol consumption shift or the age-old debate on how much fruit and vegetable to eat daily is never concluded. This has led to the public feeling they are in fact doing enough on their own to look after their health and have become resistant to any Government advice offered.”

The Benenden survey went on to ask who should be the focus of future public health campaigns and 55% believe such campaigns should be geared towards people of working age.

Marc Bell continued: “It’s no surprise that the growing ills of modern, working lifestyles have perhaps led to a view that the Government could focus more in this area.

“At Benenden, we continually promote a healthy lifestyle to our membership and the wider public – amongst all age groups. We’re keen to be part of the Government’s conversations about the best way to encourage greater personal responsibility for health and so indirectly reduce the burden on the NHS.”

The full report can be found here.

Benenden’s survey was undertaken by Opinium Research’s UK Consumer Omnibus amongst a nationally representative sample of 2,000 UK adults (18+) weighted to ONS criteria. The survey took place on Friday 20th May 2016.

About Benenden

Benenden is a group of organizations providing a range of different products that share the same powerful ethos. Benenden’s vision is to become the UK’s leading health and wellbeing mutual community.

The Benenden Healthcare Society Limited is a mutual, founded in 1905. Its original mission in the early 20th Century was to provide affordable treatment for postal workers suffering from Tuberculosis before evolving into the organization it is today now providing a wide range of discretionary healthcare services to a membership of almost 900,000 people.

Benenden’s health offering has been supplemented with other wellbeing and insurance products to help sustain the organization’s core historical product and ensure that the mutual model remains the largest part of operations going forward.