Culture Health

    Will it take a tax break to make you eat your five-a-day?

    20 October 2016

    What would really motivate people to adopt a healthier lifestyle? A greater sense of self-worth? Concern for the future? Wanting to enjoy a longer life or see their children grow up? Or could it simply be cash?

    Most people would eat a better diet and exercise more regularly if they were offered cash or tax breaks for doing so, suggests the National Health Report Survey carried out by Benenden. Of 3,000 people surveyed, 80 per cent said a financial incentive would encourage them to live a healthier lifestyle, while more than two thirds thought the obese should pay more towards the NHS to cover potential extra costs for conditions resulting from their weight. However, it’s not all bad news for the overweight, as more than half of the respondents thought advances in medical science would overcome health problems associated with being overweight, such as stroke and type 2 diabetes.

    The survey showed that 83 per cent of respondents believed the NHS would be able to care for them when they got older, whether or not they had lived a healthy lifestyle, but only 8 per cent could correctly identify the annual cost of providing that care.

    John Giles, medical director of Benenden Hospital, said: ‘This survey confirms that many individuals expect the government to assume responsibility for their health and wellbeing, rather than it being a personal responsibility.

    ‘They expect others to make a contribution for their poor choices, yet have no clear idea about the costs and limitations of modern healthcare.’

    To see the National Health Report 2016, visit