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Snacking, drinking and bad habits during Covid lead to healthy changes for 2021

A Public Health England survey finds that seven in 10 adults want to get healthier in 2021.

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Snacking on unhealthy food and drink or smoking while stuck at home due to Covid-19 has spurred more people to try and change their ways in the new year.

Fed up of the bad habits which crept in during the pandemic, 43% now feel more motivated to make changes to their life than they did in January 2020, an England-wide survey of more than 5,000 adults has found.

Since the pandemic began, 35% of people said they tucked into an unhealthy snack or drink at least once a day – up from 26% this time last year, while 29% agreed they smoked more since the second national lockdown.

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And some 23% of adults noticed they were drinking more alcohol, the Public Health England (PHE) survey states.

Covid-19 is behind the reason that 68% of adults are trying to step towards a healthier lifestyle this year, while overall 80% said that changes need to be made in 2021.

PHE has launched a Better Health campaign, which offers tips and support through a variety of tools and apps, to help adults make healthy changes in 2021. This could be to eat better, get more active or quit smoking.

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Exercising more topped the wishlist of 41% of the 40 to 60-year-old age group in the survey, along with 40% who wanted to eat more healthily and 39% said it is time to lose weight.

There were 43% of regular smokers who are planning to quit in 2021, while 45% of those who drank more during the second lockdown said they wanted to cut back on alcohol this year.

PHE chief nutritionist Dr Alison Tedstone said these are changes which will help us “feel better about ourselves” and now is a good time for a reset and do more to look after our mental health.

She said: “The past year has been immensely challenging and being stuck at home much more this year, understandably, has seen some unhealthy habits creeping up on us all.”

The campaign is aimed at people aged over 18, particularly those aged 40-60 years.

It is particularly geared towards the most affected groups – including those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities – and people with long-term health conditions.

Public health minister Jo Churchill backed the campaign, adding: “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.”

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