The scale of the task facing the Government’s Better Health Strategy anti-obesity drive has been laid bare, with new data showing that people in the South East, Wales and Scotland do not see themselves as fat while those in the East Midlands, East of England and Northern Ireland are the most likely to acknowledge their “love handles”.
The data has been gathered from Metrix Data Science’s Vigor system, which categorises the UK population into 18 segments and 60 health factors – such as being overweight or likely to suffer from diabetes.
Developed with the aim of understanding current and potential future behaviours in the health and wellbeing of the UK population, the tool has already been offered free to Government departments to help them target the UK’s most vulnerable consumers with assistance during the Covid-19 crisis.
The move follows Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for the nation to commit to get fit after a Public Health England study linked obesity to increased risk of complications in coronavirus patients, and a proposed pre-watershed ban on ads promoting junk foods.
The insight coincides with the launch of a new nine-month marketing campaign, created by M&C Saatchi, designed to encourage people to lose weight, eat better and get active.
Running across TV, print, radio, out-of-home and digital channels, it will kick off tonight with a 60-second ad across all commercial TV channels. Media planning is being handled by Wavemaker and buying by OmniGov.
However, the Vigor findings expose the huge challenges the campaign will face as it seeks to persuade Brits to shed the pounds.
Top of the table for claiming they are overweight are people from Northern Ireland, followed by those in the East Midlands, and East of England.
These regions also rank as the top three for declaring a desire to improve both their health and diet. Northern Ireland residents want to get fitter, followed by East Midlands citizens in second place, then people in London (those in the East of England come fifth in this ranking).
But those in the South East, North East, North West and Scotland are least likely to say they want to improve their health. When it comes to a desire to get fitter, those in the South East, North East, and North West are joined by consumers in the South West in their opposition to a fitness drive.
When a better diet is thrown into the equation, residents in the South East and North West are once again opposed, and so too are people who live in Scotland and Yorkshire and the Humber.
Metrix Data Science founder and CEO Bill Portlock said: “Our data shows the Government has a huge job on its hands to persuade large parts of the UK that there is a national obesity crisis, and that only vast changes in diet, fitness regimes and overall attitudes to health will deliver the difference it wants to make.
“Residents in some regions are pointing the way, however. It appears people who consider themselves overweight – as opposed to simply being overweight or told they are – will be more likely to do something about it.
“Data science is a major part of any drive to pinpoint individuals and persuade them to change their habits for the better. Identifying the difference in attitudes up and down the country, across a range of measures from self-image to fitness and dietary routines, is a great first step.”
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