Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Are You Mr or Ms Average?

Having surveyed 4000 adults across the UK, the 2014 Benenden National Health Report reveals that Mr and Ms Average are failing to follow 7 out of 8 national health guidelines.  This has led commentators to brand the nation's health "a ticking timebomb".  It seems that the vast majority of us fail to follow basic health guidelines, leading to a population that is overweight, overtired, unfit, poorly nourished and dehydrated.  This suggests that we're a nation embroiled in a health crisis, wilfully neglecting our wellbeing and expecting the already overburdened NHS to pick up the pieces.  Just because there is medicine available to combat lifestyle choices, should we neglect our health until we need them?!

The study sought to benchmark the emotional and physical wellbeing of the nation by examining their lifestyle habits, their perception of health and wellbeing, and their views on the NHS.  It revealed that the average man or woman in the UK never eats their 5 a day, never does enough exercise, gets enough sleep, or drinks enough water.  (Short break whilst writer runs to fridge...)

The study scored respondents via eight different health indicators, which were then compared to established national health guidelines to measure how well people in the UK look after themselves. Those eight health indicators are: sleep; portions of fruit and vegetables eaten; water consumption; cardio exercise per week; muscle workouts per week; alcohol consumed per week; cigarettes smoked per day and finally Body Mass Index (BMI).  The data provides a valuable insight into the way people around the UK live their lives and look after themselves, and the results can be mapped by region and age, as well as giving an indication of the health of the nation’s ‘Mr & Ms Average’.  Benenden Health intends to conduct the survey annually to see how trends change, and what impact new NHS guidelines may have.

The research found that Mr Average eats 3.3 portions of his ‘5 a day’ and has a BMI of 26.2; whilst
Ms Average eats 3.5 portions a day but has a higher-than average BMI.  I'm not sure how much store I set by the BMI idea, but I know we should all be eating more than 3.5 portions of fruit and veg a day, that's nothing!  And many experts think it should be more like 8 portions a day anyway, but apparently the 5 seemed more manageable to the public!

I'm sure we all know we should be exercising, eating more fruit and vegetables, not smoking, sleeping more, drinking less alcohol and drinking 1.5-2 litres of water a day, but the study indicates that most of us aren't doing that.  Worse still, the figures indicate that much of the population is at an increased risk of developing heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.  Definitely a ticking time bomb!

This is what the report found out about Mr and Ms Average in the UK today:

While women seem to have a slightly healthier lifestyle than men, as she sleeps more, eats more fresh fruit and vegetables, and drinks and smokes less.  The most notable thing from the findings is that both genders seem to have got the message about smoking and excessive alcohol consumption, both showing a pleasing downward trend.  Mr Average takes more exercise, but he’s also more likely to smoke and drink, which is likely to impact upon his general health.

Here's how the findings of the Benenden Report compare to recognised national guidelines:

How do you compare?

If you would like to see how you compare to Mr or Ms Average, head over to the Benenden website to take the test.


  1. Well, I can say that I'm not a Ms Average, embarrassingly, my stats are much worse than the average, oops!


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