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The average Brit is struck by a health wake-up call at the age of 39, a new study has shown. Researchers found the approach to the big 4-0 is the point when we really start to worry about the long-term health implications of the bad habits and poor diets from our younger years.
Three quarters have been so concerned they have gone on to make serious lifestyle changes such as giving up smoking or alcohol, exercising more, eating a healthier diet and even quitting their job.
But almost half admit they are worried about whether it will be possible to reverse the damage caused by their previous lifestyle.
And 64% regret not making more effort with their health when they were younger.
Prof Alf Lindberg, Science Director behind Ateronon, the ‘tomato pill’, which commissioned the research, said:
”I have spent a lifetime dedicated to preventing and curing diseases but it never ceases to amaze me how easily people are prepared to throw away their good health by abusing their bodies with poor diet, booze and lack of exercise.
”This survey is yet more evidence of that – it seems that people leave it until they reach the age of 39 before they start to take their health seriously.
”Research shows us that the more you look after yourself in your early years, the more likely you are to live a longer and healthier life.
”One of the reasons I became involved with Ateronon is because I believe that it can help people who have decided that they want to take their health seriously – even if they are already 39, or older.”
The study of 2,000 adults aged 25 and over found that 85% have reached a point in their life where they have started to worry about the health implications of their lifestyle.
And three quarters have gone on to make changes to how they live to try and improve their health, with more than half deciding to eat more fruit and veg.
Another 49% have started to do more exercise, while 45% simply eat a more balanced diet than they did previously.
Eating less fried food or takeaways, cutting back on alcohol and taking health or vitamin supplements are among the other common lifestyle changes to make.
But while the biggest reason for the wake-up call was simply starting to feel old, 16% chose to make the changes after suffering a minor health scare.
Another 15% said reaching a milestone birthday started the worry, while one in ten were spurred into action after seeing a friend or relative suffer an illness bought on by poor lifestyle choices.
The death of a loved one, being given a warning by a doctor and even reading an article in a newspaper or magazine are also among the wake-up call triggers.
Almost four in ten have even been warned by someone about their lifestyle and the effect it may have on their life, with doctors, our partner or parents the most likely to raise concerns.
It also emerged that 74% think they are healthier than ever since their health wake-up call, with more than a third saying they feel less tired than they did before.
Another 36% feel fitter, one in five reckon they are ill less often and 16% find it easier to keep up with younger members of their family.
But six in ten are still concerned that despite the lifestyle changes, their past bad habits may still affect them as they get older.
Prof Alf Lindberg, Ateronon‘s Science Director added:
”Although we have 10 years of research under our belt, there is still more to do to understand its health benefits better.
”We want to collect as much clinical trial evidence as we can, to demonstrate its efficacy in reducing risk in a wide range of conditions, from heart disease to cancer.”
Top 10 lifestyle changes to make
1. Eat more fruit and veg
2. Do more exercise
3. Have a more balanced diet
4. Eat less fried food/takeaways
5. Cut back on alcohol
6. Took vitamin/health supplements
7. Learn to relax/take time out
8. Gave up smoking
9. Cut down on the number of cigarettes
10. Stop drinking alcohol
Top ten causes of a health wake-up call
1. I was starting to feel old
2. A minor health scare
3. Reaching a milestone birthday
4. A serious health scare
5. Seeing a friend or relative suffer from an illness caused by their lifestyle
6. The death of a friend or relative
7. Being told some home truths by a doctor
8. Watching something on TV
9. Reading an article in a newspaper or magazine
10. Research on the internet