A healthy dose of confidence: Three in five Canadians believe that they lead healthy lifestyles

TORONTO, July 29, 2014 /CNW/ -- With three quarters (76%) of Canadians stating that they eat homemade meals and fruit and vegetables at least once a day, the self-perception of health among Canadians remains, well, healthy. New Mintel research shows that three in five (59%) Canadians believe that their lifestyle is healthy, with this number rising to 64% among women and 65% among Chinese Canadians. Other demographics which are more likely than average to think they are healthy are the opposite ends of the age spectrum, 18-24s (65%) and over-65s (65%), as well as those from households with an annual income of over $75,000 (64%).

Canadian Lifestyle Behaviors by Region

In terms of explaining this healthy perception, Mintel research shows that almost two thirds of Canadians (63%) are finding the time to exercise at least once per week, with one in five doing so at least once a day (19%). Unsurprisingly, this is highest among the self-proclaimed 'healthy' Canadians, 76% of whom are exercising weekly, with a quarter integrating exercise daily (26%).

"As the majority of Canadians already believe they are healthy and lead relatively active lifestyles, marketers and sports related organizations could nurture this further with new, fun, and unique fitness activities and programs," says Mintel lifestyle analyst Jason Praw. "This also presents a lucrative retail opportunity, as the active Canadian requires athletic apparel and equipment to complement their healthy lifestyle. Other key targets should be younger Canadians, and males in particular, who are less likely to categorize themselves as 'healthy'. The key is to present them with products and programs that appeal to their differing sensibilities. One possible solution can be the promotion of the gamification of fitness; utilizing gaming systems like Xbox or PlayStation to increase the activity levels of this target audience."

Some other interesting findings by demographic and region in the report:

  • British Columbians are most likely to self-diagnose as healthy, due in part to above-average healthy eating habits (ie, eating fruit and vegetables and homemade meals), positive attitude, and understanding the importance of exercise.
  • Quebec residents demonstrate the lowest level of weekly junk food intake of any province (42%). This is despite the origins and popularity of local dishes such as poutine and smoked meat, both of which cannot be considered healthy. What Quebecers define as junk food may in fact be playing a role in this lower frequency of junk food consumption.
  • Chinese Canadians do eat junk food (50%), smoke (8%), and drink alcohol (29%), but fewer do so at a high frequency of once a week or more in relation to Canadians overall (56%, 14%, and 44% respectively). They are also less likely than the average Canadian to skip meals--only 27% of Chinese Canadians do so on a weekly basis against 42% in the overall population.
  • Women are far more likely than men to eat a homemade meal (82% against 70% of men) and/or fruit and vegetables (81% against 64%) at least once a day.

At the other end of the spectrum, lack of motivation (56%) is the main barrier cited by Canadians for not being healthier. This rises to 61% among under-35s, 63% among Quebecers, and 70% for those who believe they have an unhealthy lifestyle.  A lack of spare time is the second most stated barrier (37%), rising to 49% among 25-44s. Parental and work commitments are the most likely reasons for this finding.

"There is likely to always be a segment in the Canadian population who will not be motivated to be healthier," continues Jason. "Increasing motivation is one of the largest challenges for marketers and health organizations, as reasons for lacking motivation can vary greatly among different demographics. For some it may be providing them with cheaper gym options, while others may be more responsive to education about the merits of living a healthier lifestyle. Motivation can also change with life stage, so determining what motivates younger Canadians may have a lasting effect as they grow older. But whatever life stage you're at, who doesn't enjoy a home-cooked meal?"

About Mintel
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SOURCE Mintel

For further information: Ben Handfelt, Mintel Group, 312-628-7946, bhandfelt@mintel.com, http://www.mintel.com