Healthy habits for life

Healthy habits for life

A new survey has found that tiredness is a key barrier to healthier lifestyle choices for many UK adults. Lack of motivation is another reason why many people do not make changes to their diet and become more physically active. It comes in the same week that analysis by the pressure group Action on Salt found that half of all pizzas contain ALL the salt recommended for a full day. These figures – yet more evidence that we are failing to meet the health challenge, particularly around obesity – are grim but sadly unsurprising. We need to do much more to support people to eat healthily and live active lives. It is a huge long-term challenge, and schools have a key role to play by developing healthy habits and a healthy mindset in children and young people that they will carry with them into adult life.

The survey of 2,086 UK adults was carried out by YouGov on behalf of the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF). It highlighted some of the main things that prevent UK adults from making healthy changes to their diet and physical activity levels. Lacking motivation (38%) and feeling too tired (35%) were the top reasons cited by respondents.

A lack of confidence ranked highest among 18–24-year-olds (26%) as a barrier to making healthy changes. This compared with fewer than 1 in 10 for the over 55s (9%).

When asked what was preventing them from eating more healthily and being more physically active, nearly half of 25–34-year-olds (48%) answered ‘feeling too tired’, compared with less than a quarter of over 55s (23%).

Women (40%) were more likely than men (29%) to cite ‘feeling too tired’ as a factor.

The WCRF has launched an eight-week online healthy living plan to support people to make changes to their diet and become more active. It is called Activ8 and encourages participants to take on a different challenge each week. The WCRF says that, from making healthier food and drink choices to being more active in different ways, “the programme is designed to be as easy and inspiring as possible” – including for those with busy schedules.

Living in a healthier way, whether that’s cooking from scratch more often, or getting more active can be easier said than done, especially when tiredness and motivation play such an important role. It can also be challenging knowing where to start, yet alone motivating ourselves to make changes. That’s why, with the help of Activ8, we want to support and empower people on their journey towards being healthier.

Matt Lambert, health information and promotion manager at World Cancer Research Fund, quoted in the WCRF press release

The Action on Salt research, meanwhile, was published as part of Salt Awareness Week (15-21 May). It found that one in two pizzas provide a day’s worth or more of salt per pizza. A Domino’s pizza (the sizzler standard mozzarella stuffed crust medium pizza) contains more than three times the maximum daily salt limit (which is 6g per day) and is actually saltier than seawater.

Action on Salt says that, despite the government’s plan to reduce salt, many pizzas now contain more salt than they did in 2014.

Life-Based Learning and healthy habits for life

The long-term challenge is clear: improving the health of the nation. The evidence is stacking up that we are failing in this, and that we are in effect sleepwalking towards a massive public health crisis in the future. Long-term challenges need long-term thinking. We cannot just carry on more or less as before, resulting in the same unsatisfactory outcomes as before.

Life-Based Learning is about reimagining education so that we prioritise the massive life challenges we face, bringing greater meaning to children’s learning, particularly subject learning, by making life itself the primary purpose – and focus – of learning. Tackling obesity – and promoting physical health and wellbeing more generally – is one such challenge.

Tackling health and wellbeing combines a focus on children learning how to look after themselves with a coordinated, whole-school focus on physical activity. LBL emphasises participation in sport, physical activity and outdoor play to help children grow up physically and mentally healthy. There is also an emphasis on food education and healthy eating. The aim is to help children develop healthy habits and a healthy mindset that they will carry with them into adult life.

Education is important so that people have the knowledge and skills to make informed individual choices around healthy lifestyles – what to eat, whether to exercise and so on. But it cannot be left solely – or even primarily – to individual choice and tinkering around the edges of existing policies and approaches. It also needs a collective effort, with government driving forward significant changes in how we live our lives. We need to rethink, changing our common frame of reference so that healthy lifestyles become an urgent priority.

Click the New Thinking & Curriculum Reform link on the right-hand side of this page to read much more about changing our common frame of reference.

Image at the head of this article by daniel puel from Pixabay.

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