Context: The UK’s current health outlook
Trying to get a current and correct perspective of the UK’s state of health can be confusing. On one hand, people in the UK are eating more sugary products and saturated fat than ever before as shown in a recent governmental report* which noted that the majority of UK citizens are overweight, including 61.9% of adults and 28% of children aged between 2 and 15. On the other hand, our awareness of our nationwide health problems suggests we’re ready to take a step in the right direction when it comes to looking after our bodies. Looking at both YorkTest’s own and third party data we’ve explored this wavering relationship we have with eating nutritiously and how it is opening more people’s eyes to suspected food intolerance.
Why are we so unhealthy?
The simple answer is that we eat too much unhealthy food. This can be seen in a report published by Vouchercodes earlier this year which showed that people in the UK spend approximately £29.4 million a year on takeaways; while on an individual level a typical person splurges £109 per month on convenience meals.
While it is the most well-known, obesity isn’t the only consequence of eating takeaways and food high in saturated fat. Health problems associated with being overweight or obese cost the NHS more than £5 billion every year and, on a smaller scale, eating an unbalanced diet consisting of too many fizzy drinks, carbohydrates and fatty foods can leave you feeling bloated, tired and irritable.
In spite of this, it is clear we as a nation are also starting to become more informed about nutrition. The phrase ‘food intolerance’ is cropping up with increasing regularity as more and more people discuss their health and are aware that they need to cut out the foods that are causing them discomfort. Suspected food intolerance can mean painful and uncomfortable symptoms, so successfully identifying the problem food is paramount to feeling better. A food intolerance test determines whether IgG antibody reactions to foods and drinks are detected in your blood. One of the most common symptoms of food intolerance is IBS, and our understanding and acknowledgement of IBS has grown astronomically over the years.
A quick look on Google Trends indicates that between January 2004 and January 2014 searches for ‘IBS symptoms’ have increased by 85%. This not only suggests that more people are suffering from IBS-like symptoms, a matter further supported by YorkTest’s own data, but also that they’re looking to get to the root cause of their problem too.
So how come despite being more informed, we as a nation are still so unhealthy?
The problem seems to stem from people’s attitude to the weekend, wherein they relax from their healthy lifestyle and divulge in an entire weekend of eating and drinking, sometimes to excess.
It’s clear that many people are fully aware that eating badly at the weekend is likely to impact how they feel on Monday, although this clearly does not prevent them from indulging in unhealthy behaviour at the time.
We looked at social media which confirmed many people’s unhealthy attitude to eating at the weekend. This supports our own statistics which showed that Saturday is generally the day where we care the least about our bodies and our diet; 43% less people looking for a solution on a Saturday than on a Monday (impressions). However, the people who are looking on a Saturday are much more likely (1.6X) to buy a food intolerance test.
In fact, 18% more people are looking for a food intolerance test on a Monday than any other day.
Our decision is clearly to binge on a weekend but continue to eat foods which our bodies do not agree with. Symptoms for food intolerance sometimes don’t appear for 72 hours after eating the problem food, so we often aren’t aware of how much damage we have done to ourselves till much later. Remember that pizza you ate on Saturday night? Whilst we’re sure you enjoyed eating it at the time, come Monday morning a suspected intolerance to wheat might be wreaking havoc on your stomach and how you feel. This may further explain the increase in searches for food related problems on a Monday.
Do you find that you feel worse on Mondays after a weekend of eating unhealthily?