£335 million bill for a failure of will

Article date: 3 February 2003

Just one month after pledging to get firmer, fitter andhealthier, half of Britain’s New Year’s resolutionmakers are still in the same shape – and £335 million worseoff.

Around a third of all adults made health-related resolutions onJanuary 1, spending millions on gym memberships, sports equipment,slimming classes and self-help aids.

But half of them have already quit. And their collective‘willpower deficit’ cost them an estimated £335 million– nearly £50 per person.

That’s the conclusion of a study among 1,000 peoplepublished by Norwich Union Healthcare today.

The report reveals that just under 15 million UK adults setthemselves a health-related resolution in January and 25 per centspent up to £100 pursuing it.

However, just weeks later, almost half have failed to see theirresolution through.

The vast majority of the seven million quitters admit they haveonly themselves to blame. A quarter had said they would rely onsupport from family and friends to succeed. However only four percent blamed lack of support when they did quit.

The top four reasons for failure were:

  1. Lack of willpower
  2. Too busy with work and family
  3. Too expensive
  4. Lack of support from my family and friends

Those in the East Midlands, Yorkshire and London were mostlikely to quit because they were too busy. Conversely just 16 percent of those in South Wales blamed being too busy for theirfailure. The group that had the most problems with willpower werethe Scots.

Dr Doug Wright, clinical development manager at Norwich UnionHealthcare, said: “It appears to be a tale of ‘bravenew year, same old story’ for the weaker willed among us.Maybe that’s to be expected. What’s startling is theamount we now spend on trying to get healthy.”

Pam Richardson, director of the UK College of Life Coaching,added: “New Year resolutions require some time spent workingout what matters to you, and in what order of priority you holdthese values. For example, if well-being and weight management isnot top of your list, then with the inevitable demands on yourtime, exercise or healthy eating may ‘drop off the edge ofthe plate’.

“However, if it’s not a priority then stop beatingyourself up thinking what you should be doing. Alternatively, askyourself ‘what would raise the importance of my well-being inmy life right now? When you work in alignment with what matters toyou, you choose to take action, this is the primary motivator andis sustainable.”

Despite the widespread failure to keep New Year’sresolutions, the Norwich Union Healthcare study does at leastdemonstrate widespread interest in health and self-improvement.

This trend prompted Norwich Union Healthcare to launch aweb-based health service called Personal Health Manager, which itbelieves can act as a motivational aid to staying healthy.

A key element of Personal Health Manager is the Health Planner– which is perfect for people wanting a tailored health planto develop habits for the better or the motivation to stay ontrack. In fact, the Health Planner helps individuals stay on trackwith e-mail reminders and detailed goal setting.

The site, located at www.personalhealthmanager.co.uk, offersround-the-clock help, advice and information for Norwich UnionHealthcare customers and their families. Anyone else can use it fora limited trial period+.

The service can reinforce personal health goals by delivering awealth of information and advice. Along with the Health Planner,other areas include:

  • Symptom Assessment - users can enter their own symptoms andanswer questions to determine a range of possible conditions
  • Medical Encyclopedia - over 1,000 pages of illustrated medicalinformation from the latest edition of the Complete Family HealthGuide published by Dorling Kindersley
  • 24-Hour GP Helpline - this service already exists for NorwichUnion Healthcare policyholders. Personal Health Manager extendsthe service by giving GPs access to data saved by users on thesite.

Access to Personal Health Manager: Norwich Union Healthcare hasset up a limited free trial for your readers+. Simply call 0800 142142* quoting reference 2849831c3. The trial period for your readerswill expire on 31 March 2003+ (see Notes to Editors for journalistaccess)

Press contacts:

Jo Misson or Charlotte Ruddlesdin at QBO on 020 7379 0304
Weekend contact: Jo Misson on 07887 77 77 31

Notes to editors:

  • Journalists wanting a limited free trial for Personal HealthManager, please visit www.personalhealthmanager.co.uk and use theaccess code: b6eecba34. This code will allow you to trial PersonalHealth Manager from now until 28 February+. DO NOT PUBLISH THISACCESS CODE – IT IS FOR JOURNALIST USE ONLY.
  • Norwich Union Healthcare commissioned Taylor Nelson Sofres tointerview 1,000 households during December 2002 and January2003.
  • +The GP Helpline is not available as part of the trial.Personal Health Manager is strictly available for use in, and byresidents of the UK, Isle of Man and Channel Islands only.
  • *For security and administration, calls to and from NorwichUnion may be monitored and/or recorded.
  • Norwich Union Healthcare is the healthcare arm of NorwichUnion and provides a range of private medical insurance and incomeprotection products to around 750,000 customers. It is one of thelargest providers of income protection and private medicalinsurance in the UK.
  • Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer offering acomprehensive range of long-term savings and general insuranceproducts.
  • Norwich Union Healthcare is a member of the General InsuranceStandards Council.
  • Norwich Union’s news releases are available on the Avivaplc website at www.aviva.com
  • A selection of images is available from the Norwich UnionNewscast site at www.newscast.co.uk

For all life and pensions media enquiries call 08703 66 6873
For all other media enquiries call 08703 66 68 68

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