Today, with increased accessibility to the Internet and extensive marketing techniques, it’s often assumed that lifestyle choices, including health choices, are influenced by celebrities and influencers. However, a new survey shows that this is not the case and in fact, health choices are mostly influenced by family and friends.
On the occasion of World Food Day on 16 October, fitness technology app Fitelo released a survey titled, State of Your Plate. For this, the eating habits of 5,000 people in India were assessed to understand their association with the behavioural, cultural, social and emotional states. According to the Press Trust of India (PTI), the report showed 76% of surveyed Indians' health choices were influenced by what their family and friends thought of as healthy.
The survey, conducted across all age groups from 18 to 63 years, has 90% of respondents from the millennial and Gen Z category and 77% of the respondents are women. The findings showed that 58% of Indians think of weight loss only when the size of their clothes increases, and 46% reconsider their eating habits when casual remarks on their body weight are passed by family and friends, PTI reports.
It also highlighted that family get-togethers (57%), festive occasions (44 %) and stressful times (35%) as the "three most difficult moments" that lead to emotional eating wherein respondents have admitted to giving up on their health goals.
Moreover, 33% of women feel that they stress-eat because of family responsibilities, specifically childcare. However, 35% of men reported that they are more likely to lose focus on their health goals at office parties, the report adds. Notably, 57% of Indians celebrate their achievements with foods high in sugar, salt and fat.
According to the survey, exercise is not a priority for many Indians. Indians prefer light exercises such as walks (55%) over high cardio exercises or sports. "Only 3 per cent of all the respondents enjoy swimming as a fitness activity and only 6 per cent of them indulge in sports as an everyday activity," the report adds.
Not only family and friends, but coworkers can also influence health choices. A 2022 study, published in BMC Public Health, shows that the workplace can encourage a healthier lifestyle among employees and improve the consumption of healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables. It also showed that employees' healthy eating behaviour is positively correlated with their colleagues' fruit and vegetable consumption.
These studies show that people’s health choices are highly influenced by their environment and hence, ensuring an environment that benefits them is important for their health.