Seven in ten adults in the East Midlands are motivated to get healthier in 2021 due to COVID-19

Published on: Tuesday, 5th January 2021
Public Health England

New research has found that 8 in ten (82%) of adults in the East Midlands have made the active decision to make changes to their lifestyle in 2021, with almost 7 in 10 (68%) saying that they are motivated to make healthier lifestyle changes due to coronavirus.

Compared to last year, over a third of people (38%)1 feel more motivated to make changes to their life in January.  Eating more healthily (38%), losing weight (39%) and exercising more (44%) were at the top of the list of changes.1 

Evidence shows that being obese significantly increases your chance of being admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 compared to those with a healthy BMI.

To support the adults in the East Midlands make these changes, Public Health England has launched its latest Better Health new year campaign to encourage residents to work towards a healthier lifestyle, whether it’s losing weight by getting active and eating better, looking after their mental wellbeing, or quitting smoking. The campaign offers support through a variety of tools and apps, including the updated NHS 12 Week Weight Loss app.  This comes as currently 28% of adults in England are living with obesity and 36% are overweight.

The survey revealed that 2020 and the impact of the pandemic saw behaviours in the East Midlands change, including:

  • Almost a third of people reported snacking on unhealthy food and drinks at least once a day (26%) up from 18% this time last year.
  • A third said they were exercising less (33%) in the latter half of the year
  • More than 1 in four (27%) felt that their mental health deteriorated since the pandemic began
  • 15% claimed that their alcohol intake has increased since the start of the second national lockdown.

Ann Crawford, Deputy Director of Health, Wellbeing and Workforce Development at Public Health England Midlands said: “This year has been challenging for us all. Not only has it made us aware of just how fragile life can be, but it has also shown us how important good mental health is to manage this difficult time.  Months of isolation and uncertainty have had a huge impact on our behaviours which has led to an uptake in unhealthy snacking and alcohol consumption. 

“Exercise and healthy eating habits can drastically improve our overall health and gives us the best chance at fighting diseases.  Whether you decide to quit smoking, lose weight or focus on your mental health, we’re urging everyone in the East Midlands to make 2021 their healthiest year yet.”

Dr Dawn Harper, who is supporting the campaign, said: “The impact that COVID-19 has had on our physical health and mental wellbeing is huge.  We saw households across England revert to unhealthy eating habits and reducing the amount of exercise they undertook.  However, 2020 has also caused us to feel more motivated to make lasting changes in the new year.

“2021 is a time to start afresh, and kickstarting a health plan can be daunting, but you don’t have to do it alone.  Resources like the Better Health website and apps can be a huge help, no matter what changes you’re looking to make or what stage you are”.  

Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill, said: “There is no doubt 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone.  The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted particularly the impact obesity can have on some people's health and health outcomes.  

“We know many people want to make changes for a healthier lifestyle and we want to help them. So the Better Health campaign provides a range of tools, like ‘Couch to 5K’, to support people in their choices.  This, together with the government’s world-leading obesity strategy, will help motivate and support everyone to take up healthier routines in 2021.”

The Better Health campaign provides a wide range of free NHS tools and advice to support healthier habits, including suggestions on how to increase physical activity, make healthier food choices, lose weight, improve mental health and quit smoking.

The campaign includes new wide scale national TV, radio, social and OOH advertising. This year, Better Health is also working in partnership with a number of weight management and physical activity partners who are providing both free and exclusive discounted offers.  Alongside the advertising campaign, PHE has released a new film featuring households, across the country, discussing their health journey in 2020 and their motivations for the new year.

The campaign targets all adults over 18, with a focus on those aged 40 - 60.  There will be a particular emphasis on those groups who are most affected, including those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and those with long-term health conditions.

Search ‘Better Health’ or visit for free tools and support to help you make healthy changes

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