Almost one third report smoking more cigarettes since second UK lockdown

Eight in 10 adults over the age of 18 are set to make healthier changes, such as cutting back on smokingEight in 10 adults over the age of 18 are set to make healthier changes to their lifestyle in 2021 following a spike in unhealthy habits.

This is according to new data from Public Health England (PHE).

Seven in 10 also say the COVID-19 pandemic has motivated them to make healthier lifestyle modifications.

Compared to last year, almost half of the population (43%) feel more motivated to implement changes to their life in January. For example, around six million adults aged 40 to 60 plan to:

  • Exercise more (41%)
  • Eat more healthily (40%)
  • Lose weight (39%).

Spike in smoking

Additionally, four in 10 (43%) who smoke regularly will attempt to quit in 2021. Nearly half of those who increased their alcohol intake during the second lockdown (45%) hope to reduce their alcohol intake this year.

The survey was carried out on more than 5,000 participants across England.

The research also reveals the impact of the pandemic on the public’s behaviour.

One third of people (35%) reported snacking on unhealthy foods at least once a day – an increase of 26% from the previous year. Additionally, one third said they were exercising less during the latter half of the year.

A significant 29% reported smoking more since the second national lockdown. Reasons included concerns around their physical and mental health (42%) and financial worries (41%).

On top of this, 23% say their alcohol intake has increased since the second lockdown.

Jo Churchill is public health minister and also holds responsibility for dentistry. She said: ‘There is no doubt 2020 has been a challenging year for everyone.

‘The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted particularly the impact obesity can have on some people’s health and health outcomes.’

Ban on ‘buy one get one free’

This comes as the government introduces steps to curb obesity rates across the UK.

Multi-buy offers on unhealthy snacks, such as ‘buy one get one free’ promotions, will be banned from April 2022.

It will apply to all supermarkets employing more than 50 people and stores that span more than 2,000 square feet.

Professor Graham MacGregor, the chair of Action on Sugar, welcomed the news – adding that it was a ‘bold first step’ towards improving Britain’s health.

He said: ‘This important policy specifically targets the most sugar-laden food and drinks packed with excessive calories. It will provide a level playing field for responsible retailers.’

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