WIN International, the world’s leading association in market research and polling, has published the 2019 WIN World Survey (WWS) exploring the views and beliefs of 29575 people from 40 countries across the globe about health, habits and food consumption.
Understanding people’s perceptions of their health becomes increasingly more important during a global health crisis. Questions on healthy habits and how individuals conduct their everyday life might help to understand societal changes and trends in terms of healthy behavior and lifestyles. Today more than ever, people’s perceptions of their own health and on what to buy or how to behave to stay healthy become essential and topics of global interest. In addition, fear and concerns about the current health crisis might also depend on how healthy (or unhealthy) people consider themselves.
This study was conducted before the global pandemic started, and it focuses more on people’s perceptions of food choices and consumption, and lifestyle choices. Despite it does not include medical questions nor virus-related questions, this research sheds light on health behaviors and habits which are deeply connected to how vulnerable people might feel right now.
Compared to 2018, in 2019 people’s perceptions of their health do not vary: 77% consider themselves healthy (very healthy + healthy) and 23% unhealthy (somewhat unhealthy + unhealthy). The latter might represent the ones experiencing higher infection risks during the current health emergency. Older people (65+) who consider themselves unhealthy are almost twice the amount of younger people (18-24) who consider themselves unhealthy (30% vs. 16%).
Poland (50%) and Honk Kong (41%) are the countries with the highest percentage of respondents considering themselves unhealthy, while China (95%) and Indonesia (93%) are the countries where the percentage of citizens considering themselves healthy is the highest.
This survey explored eleven health-related habits and five food consumption behaviors, with some surprising results:
From the seven behaviors tracked, minor changes were observed compared to the previous year. There is a slight increase in the number of people taking medicines (regularly) prescribed by a doctor (often or somewhat often: from 34% in 2018 to 35% in 2019). The number of people going on a diet also increased (often or somewhat often: 15% vs 18%). While the number of people suffering from stress and people doing exercise remains the same (30% and 37% respectively), there is a decrease in the number of people who smoke and drink alcohol: -2 and -3 points respectively. This survey also shows a worrying fall in the number of people that sleep well (from 64% to 61%). New behaviors measured in this wave show that people are trying to improve their life by choosing healthy lifestyles.
More than half of the world population (54%) is (a lot or moderately) concerned about healthy living: 43% read labels/nutritional information on products, 47% are concerned about the prices of healthy food, 27% control the portions they eat.
Food consumption shows the same trend: 37% of people reduced their consumption of packaged food, 41% eats less fast food and 38% reduced the number of sweets. Also, 23% increased their consumption of organic food and 19% is having more low-sugar/low-fat products in their daily diet.
Important differences between age groups should be noted: while older people conduct a healthier lifestyle (less packaged food, fewer sweets, less fast food), young people tend to behave the other way around, a result probably related to health perceptions. However, organic food consumption is increasing more among young people than among older ones.
There are some differences in terms of behavior and food consumption between people who consider themselves healthy (77%) and people that feel to conduct an unhealthy life (23%): the former exercise more often (42%), read products’ labels (48%), don´t suffer from stress (38%), eat organic food (29%) and consume low-sugar/low-fat products (25%). People who consider themselves less healthy usually take more medicines prescribed by a doctor (54%), don´t exercise (46%) and suffer from stress (46%).
Vilma Scarpino, President of WIN International, said:
“Health is the centerpiece of our daily life, and we are learning during these difficult times how much individuals’ health is deeply related to society’s wealth and wellness as a whole. Our global survey with data from 29,575 people across 40 countries reveals a growing trend in terms of healthy lifestyles, due to people´s concern about their health. However, the survey reports minor changes compared to the previous year, which means there is a need to stress even more the importance of health and wellness messages to achieve better results. The wide-ranging data in this report is important and fascinating: WIN International wishes to contribute with these data to improve the world’s health.”