Research claims more adults are motivated to get healthier due to COVID-19

Tuesday, 5th January 2021

NEW research has found that over three quarters (76%) of adults in the West Midlands region have made the active decision to make changes to their lifestyle in 2021.

In addition, 7 in 10 (68%) saying that they are motivated to make healthier lifestyle changes due to coronavirus.

Compared to last year, almost half of people in the region (44%) feel more motivated to make changes to their life in January. Eating more healthily (37%), losing weight (36%) and exercising more (38%) were at the top of the list of changes.

Evidence shows that being obese significantly increases your chance of being admitted to intensive care with COVID-19 compared to those with a healthy BMI.

To support the adults in the West Midlands make these changes, Public Health England (PHE) has launched its latest Better Health new year campaign to encourage people to work towards a healthier lifestyle, whether it’s losing weight, getting more active, looking after their mental wellbeing, or quitting smoking.

The campaign offers support through a variety of tools and apps, including the updated NHS 12 Week Weight Loss app. This comes as currently 28% of adults in England are living with obesity and 36% are overweight.

The survey revealed that 2020 and the impact of the pandemic saw behaviours in the West Midlands region change, including:

  • Nearly a quarter (21%) of people reported snacking on unhealthy food and drinks at least once a day
  • Around a third (30%) said they were exercising less in the latter half of the year
  • 14% claimed that their alcohol intake had increased since the start of the second national lockdown.

Dr Lola Abudu, Director for Health and Wellbeing at PHE in the West Midlands, said:

“With all the stresses and sacrifices everyone dealt with in 2020, it’s not surprising that so many people in the region, and across the country, found themselves falling into bad habits. Whether snacking on unhealthy foods, drinking more alcohol, smoking more or doing much less exercise – last year took its toll on both our physical and mental health. The less healthy we are, the less resilience we have to fight off diseases, making us much more vulnerable to conditions like cancer, heart disease, and of course COVID-19.

“The start of any year is a time when many people make New Year’s resolutions about positive lifestyle changes. We have survived one of the hardest years of our lifetimes, and we have the hope of two new vaccines to help us combat COVID-19 – so 2021 is a year to think positive. It’s time to get fighting fit to improve our general physical and mental health and keep us all resilient in the fight against coronavirus. Just go to the NHS website and search for Better Health, and you’ll find support to lose weight, get active, quit smoking and take care of your mind.”

Cathy Foreman (56) lives in Coventry and is an NHS key worker for the National Institute of Health Research, Clinical Research Network West Midlands. She has found keeping healthy challenging over recent years, especially during the pandemic.

Cathy said:

“As an NHS worker I’m always busy, and my job is quite sedentary, so it’s easy to let healthy eating and exercise slide and to pile on the pounds. Ten years ago I was really healthy; I used to go to the gym at least twice a week, did a lot of walking and competitive Latin dance – even becoming the West Midlands over 40s Argentine tango champion. However, when I started the perimenopause about 8 years ago, it really affected my energy levels, so I exercised less and started to eat more sugary foods. I decided to join a gym a couple of years ago, but again, work and life took over, with hormonal changes making it tough to get rid of the weight I’d gained. Then with the pandemic, it was all too easy to put on weight during lockdown, and I found myself snacking on lots of sugary foods again while getting little exercise.

“During the summer, our regional Wellbeing Lead Julie Davis, decided to help colleagues by devising a free online platform, to help us all keep physically and mentally fit. We’d already taken inspiration from the Couch To 5K app and developed a ‘Desk to 5K’ challenge and a twice-yearly 1 million step challenge, so Julie expanded this to arrange lunchtime calendar invitations offering high and low impact workouts, yoga and mindfulness sessions, plus information on health and nutrition, including the menopause. This, along with apps like Couch To 5K, Easy Meals and the NHS 12 Week Weight Loss Plan, will really help me and my colleagues. Our online platform was offered to all NHS colleagues across the West Midlands, and it has been such a success that it is now available to all NHS workers in England. With all the great support available, I am now determined to lose a stone this year, to improve my general health and make sure I’m ready for anything.”

Cathy Foreman

Cathy Foreman from Coventry

The Better Health campaign provides a wide range of free NHS tools and advice to support healthier habits, including suggestions on how to increase physical activity, make healthier food choices, lose weight, improve mental health and quit smoking.

The campaign includes new wide-scale national TV, radio, social advertising. This year, Better Health is also working in partnership with a number of weight management and physical activity partners who are providing both free and exclusive discounted offers.

Alongside the advertising campaign, PHE has released a new film featuring households across the country, discussing their health journey in 2020 and their motivations for the new year.

The campaign targets all adults over 18, with a focus on those aged 40 to 60. There will be a particular emphasis on those groups who are most affected, including those from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and those with long-term health conditions.

Search ‘Better Health’ or visit for free tools and support to help you make healthy changes.

Public Health Minister, Jo Churchill 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.

“We know many people want to make changes for a healthier lifestyle and we want to help them. So, the Better Health campaign provides a range of tools, like ‘Couch to 5K’, to support people in their choices. This, together with the government’s world-leading obesity strategy, will help motivate and support everyone to take up healthier routines in 2021.”

Here at Tamworth Informed, we want to say a huge thank you to all NHS Staff, Care Workers, Emergency Service Workers, Shop Staff and anyone else helping to keep us safe, healthy, fed, watered or connected to vital services during this difficult of the 3rd National Lockdown. Please stay safe and look after each other.

On 4 January the Prime Minister announced that England was to enter a National Lockdown, meaning that we should all stay at home. 

national Lockdown - stay at home

> You must stay at home to protect the NHS and save lives.
> You must not leave your home unless necessary.
> Stay 2 metres apart from anyone not in your household or bubble.

Find out more information about COVID-19 on the NHS 111 website here