Half of us are already overweight - even before the festive feeding frenzy starts

Article date: 23 December 2013

More than two in five of us (44%) don’t care how much we eat this Christmas, according to a snapshot survey undertaken by health insurer Aviva1. Moreover, half of us (49%) are already overweight or obese, even before festive food and drink take their toll on our not so healthy waistlines.

Aviva calculated the body mass index (BMI) of over 300 customers to find out the proportion of healthy versus unhealthy weights in the UK2. The results show that there are as many people with a risk level BMI as there are with a healthy level. Half of respondents (49%) are in the healthy range, while an equal proportion are overweight to varying degrees (38% classified as overweight and 11% classified as obese.) Encouragingly though, only 2% are in the underweight range.

BMI Category

BMI level

% of respondents


Less than 18.5



18.5 - 24.9



25 - 29.9


Obese 1

30 - 34.9


Obese 2 (severe)

35 - 39.9


Obese 3 (morbid)

More than 40


The survey also showed a potential for denial amongst the overweight or obese population as to how healthy they really are: of those classified as overweight or obese, a surprising four in five (84%) said they thought they were in good health.

Overall however, irrespective of whether their BMI level is healthy or unhealthy, there is evidence of pre-Christmas motivation amongst the population for change and taking responsibility for leading a healthier lifestyle in 2014. 

Half of us (53%) plan to take more exercise in 2014 and one in three (29%) want to join a gym. Two in five (41%) want to lose weight, (rising to 64% in the overweight or obese population), although only 3% say they want to do this through a formal face-to-face or online class.  Almost half of us (47%) pledge the will to eat more healthily as well in 2014.

Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director for Aviva, UK Health, said: “Maintaining a healthy BMI is a simple and effective way for people to make sure they are looking after their overall health.

“A significant proportion of those in the survey who are overweight could be in denial as they say that they are actually in good health. Whilst they may not be experiencing any health problems at present, the chances are that unless they make changes to ‘de-risk’ their lifestyle, they are going to experience health issues in the future.

“Whilst it’s encouraging that a third [65%] of those classified as overweight in our survey said they will exercise more in 2014, with a similar amount [64%] saying they will lose weight, this needs to be less of a short lived New Year resolution and more of a long running change to diet and exercise.”

1)     Aviva survey of 362 individual private medical insurance customers, December 2013.
2)     BMI data drawn from Aviva survey of 326 individual private medical insurance customers, December 2013.

- Ends -

If you are a journalist and would like further information, please contact: Melissa Loughran: Aviva Press Office: 01904 452791: 07800 691947:Melissa.loughran@aviva.co.uk

Notes to editors:

Aviva provides insurance, savings and investment products to 34 million customers worldwide.

We are the UK’s largest insurer with over 14 million customers and one of Europe’s leading providers of life and general insurance. We combine strong life insurance, general insurance and asset management businesses under one powerful brand. We are committed to serving our customers well in order to build a stronger, sustainable business, which makes a positive contribution to society, and for which our people are proud to work.

We are ranked as one of the UK’s top ten most valuable brands and Aviva Plc is in the top 10% of socially responsible companies globally in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index.  In 2012 we invested £5.7m into our UK communities. One in three of our employees were involved in community investment activities which included giving nearly 30,000 hours.

Aviva is working in partnership with Railway Children through the Aviva Street to School programme to get children living or working on UK streets back into everyday life, especially education. Find out more at www.aviva.co.uk/street-to-school/

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