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Modern lifestyles are having a detrimental and very worrying effect on the health of middle-aged people, according to new research from Government organisation Public Health England.

It says that eight out of every 10 middle-aged people either weigh too much, drink too much, or don’t exercise enough, ­ and in the worst cases a combination of all three. It also says that modern life is taking a heavy toll on the health of the so-called “sandwich generation” – middle-aged people sandwiched between caring for their own children and ageing parents, and not taking their own health seriously enough.

Now Public Health England (PHE) has launched a campaign called “One You”, aimed at getting middle-aged people to live more healthily. It provides free support and tools to people planning to turn over a new leaf and adopt a healthier lifestyle in 2017, improving their wellbeing now and for the future.

According to PHE, a worryingly high 83% of 40 to 60-year-olds are either overweight or obese, exceed the Chief Medical Officer’s alcohol guidelines, or are physically inactive. Obesity in adults has rocketed by 16% in the past 20 years, so much so that many people cannot identify what a ‘healthy’ body looks like, suggesting obesity is becoming the new norm.

The diabetes rate in the same age group had doubled over the same period in England, with obese adults five times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who are a healthy weight. Aspects of modern life are blamed for some of the changes, including more people doing sedentary desk jobs, readily available and cheap fast food or unhealthy processed foods, and less physically active leisure pursuits.

To encourage people to take stock of their own lifestyle, the One You campaign has launched an online quiz. Called “How Are You”, the quiz takes your lifestyle information, gives you a health score and then links to free, localised, personalisable information, apps and tools. More than 1.1 million people have already taken the quiz and, where applicable, been directed to download tools such as an exercise programme, alcohol checker and a guide to easy and healthy meals.

You can take the “How Are You” quiz by clicking here.

Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at PHE, said: “People are busy with work, with families, with the daily grind and sometimes their own health is the least of their priorities. The How Are You quiz will help anyone who wants to take a few minutes to take stock and find out quickly where they can take a little action to make a big difference to their health.”

Professor Sir Muir Gray, Clinical Advisor for PHE’s One You campaign, added: “The demands of modern day living are taking their toll on the health of the nation, and it’s those in middle age that are suffering the consequences most, as their health reaches worrying new levels.

“Over 15 million Britons are living with a long-term health condition, and busy lives and desk jobs make it difficult to live healthily. But just making a few small changes will have significant benefits to people’s health now and in later life.”

 

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