NEWS19 November 2014

Brits unhealthier and unhappier since recession

News UK

UK — British consumer trends point to a nation that is eating less healthily, is less concerned about their appearance and is unhappier since the economic downturn started in 2008, according to Kantar Media’s TGI study.


The proportion of adults who consider their diet to be very healthy has fallen from 41% in 2009 to 36% today, as consumers sought some sense of comfort and reward in more indulgent but less healthy foods as the recession took hold.

An the proportion of consumers claiming to look after the way they look has fallen from 62% in 2009 to 54% today. In 2009, 58% of adults were happy with their standard of living but this has dropped to 49% today. Similarly, the proportion of adults who say they are happy with their life as it is, has fallen from 63% in 2009 to 57% today.

Food related behavioural changes include a decline in buying premium quality products, less inclination to purchase organic and fair trade and a rise in price consciousness. TGI’s figures show that in 2009, 48% of adults said they spent a lot of money on food in their home, compared with 41% today. 

TGI’s insights reveal a strong correlation between unhealthy food consumption and consumer unhappiness, with income only playing a small part in driving a healthy diet. And this connection between unhappiness and unhealthy diet is purely British.

In Spain, which has suffered more financial hardship in recent years than many of its European counterparts, the proportion of adults who say they are happy with their standard of living has remained unchanged over the past five years. In Great Britain, this figure has fallen from 57% to 47% over the same period. In Spain there has been no prominent swing towards eating unhealthily as there has been in Britain.

Anne Benoist, director, Kantar Media TGI said: “The fast food industry has, to a certain extent, repositioned itself during the downturn so that it is no longer so synonymous with junk food. Many fast food brands and restaurants have cannily promoted their healthy credentials, while on-the-go outlets that claim to eschew junk food have popped up on the high street. This has helped consumers feel less guilty about what they eat. The healthy food industry needs to undertake a similar re-positioning so that eating healthily is no longer equated with unhappiness in consumers’ minds.”