Unhealthy Brits cost country £17.7 billion a year

Wednesday, 8 June 2011 11:12 AM

Unhealthy Brits are costing the NHS, employers and ourselves £17.7 billion every year through lifestyle choices, according to new research.

This figure could rise to almost £33bn a year by 2025 if current health trends continue.

According to the findings by private healthcare provider Bupa, making healthier lifestyle choices such as quitting smoking, reducing alcohol intake and becoming more active can have an immediate impact on our wallets.

By 2025, if healthier lifestyles are adopted the total savings made by individuals alone across the UK could amount to £22bn a year.

This figure comes from savings of £5bn and £3.9bn through reduced expenditure on alcohol and cigarettes respectively and a staggering £7.4bn saved in additional earning potential due to increased life expectancy from quitting smoking.

Individuals could also save £1.7bn through increased employment and £3.9bn through increased earning potential due to a fall in obesity levels.

The findings of the report also outline the long-term financial implications of healthier lifestyles to employers and the NHS, which make up the remainder of the £33bn figure.

Dr Johann Carinus, assistant medical director, at Bupa Health and Wellbeing, said: “This study not only reveals the true cost to the nation of unhealthy lifestyle choices but it also highlights the considerable savings to the public purse which could be achieved through individual commitments to health improvement.

“Data released earlier this year from the Bupa 'Health Age' report showed that almost 70 per cent of people in the UK wanted to make a positive change to improve their health in 2011.”

To coincide with the new findings, Bupa is launching the Bupa Health Pledge campaign, calling on the public to make a Pledge to achieve their health goals - whether it’s to quit smoking, cut down on alcohol, eat more healthily or do more exercise.

Bupa has launched a simple tool that allows members of the public to track their progress on a specific Health Pledge and access information, free expert advice and support needed to make the desired change, all on its Facebook page.

As Bupa’s own Health Pledge, the healthcare company is also committing to donate £1 to the British Heart Foundation for everyone who signs up to a Pledge.

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