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Largest global consumer awareness survey reveals pandemic’s impact on mental and physical wellbeing – and lasting lifestyle changes

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  • 15 countries surveyed across Europe, North/South America and Asia
  • Globally the study found that the pandemic has had a greater toll on mental wellbeing than physical wellbeing
  • Impact greatest amongst Italians, 39% feel mentally unhealthier compared to pre-pandemic, along with Brazilians, 37% and Brits, 34%
  • Italians also rated the highest for feeling physically unhealthier, 25%, followed by the Brits, 24%
  • Worldwide people are making lifestyle changes such as exercising, dieting, and improving indoor air quality to stay healthy

A new global consumer awareness survey across 15 countries has revealed the true impact this year of the Covid-19 pandemic on mental and physical wellbeing worldwide – along with the lasting lifestyle changes made as a result.

In the largest survey of its kind totalling 15,000 respondents, the findings range from how people rate their mental and physical wellbeing, whether they have done anything to improve their immunity and general health, to their perception of the quality of the air, both in the street where they live and inside their homes, and responded to other challenges of the pandemic.

After the first 2021 Global Healthy Thinking Report focused on Oral Health, the second report by international healthcare company Sunstar provides a multi-layered illustration of perceptions around air quality, health and wellbeing this year – and how consumers have looked after themselves during this unprecedented period.

Worldwide findings from the Global Healthy Thinking Report include:

Which countries are taking more care of mental wellbeing? – The Chinese are taking more care of mental wellbeing, 42%, along with Mexicans and Thai, 35%. While just 13% of Britons and 16% of French and Dutch are.

Biggest exercisers during the pandemic – 47% of the Chinese said they were now exercising more, followed by 44% of Indonesians. Globally 33% said they were, while only 13% of Japanese said the same. Globally, 19% say they are less fit.

Best for adopting a healthier diet – 51% of Indonesians are eating a generally healthier diet in the last six months, this was also high in China, 46%, Thailand 42% and Mexico, 41%. While 18% of Britons are eating a less healthy diet.

Most common wellbeing practice – Physical exercise is one of the most common wellbeing practices, while walks and talks with family and friends one of the most popular activities especially in China, 55%, in Spain 50%, and 49% in Germany.

Greatest awareness of air quality within the home due to the pandemic – 55% of Indonesians feel more aware of air quality than before the pandemic. While just 24% of Britons and 19% of Japanese do. Singaporeans worry about air quality within the home the most, 35% and the Brits are least concerned, 46% are no more worried about indoor air quality than pre-Covid.

Most popular action taken to improve air quality in the home – Opening windows/doors to circulate air for longer is the most significant global action by consumers, with the highest percentage in Argentina, 67%, followed by Italy and Indonesia, 57% and 55%.Other high scoring actions across countries range from more regularly dusting and changing bedding in Mexico, 54%, to running an air purifier, which was especially popular in China, 44%.

Worst for lowering stress to boost immunity to Covid-19 and/or general health? –The UK has the lowest rating,19%, for trying to lower stress, followed by Japan and the Netherlands tied at 22%, and France 24%. The Argentinians are the most successful at lowering their stress levels, 38%.

Biggest increase in vitamin supplementation to boost immunity – 49% of Indonesians are now taking vitamin supplements such as Vitamin C or D to boost their immunity to Covid-19 and/or general health, followed by 46% of Mexicans.  Just 12% of Japanese are doing so.

Comments Martijn Verhulst, Medical Liaison Manager, Sunstar Scientific Affairs, on the survey findings: “To our knowledge, this is the biggest survey worldwide to explore how the pandemic has impacted so many areas of our lives, from how we feel about our mental and physical wellbeing and awareness of air quality within our homes to the lifestyle changes people have made to respond to its challenges.

“While it is concerning to see the overall impact of Covid-19 on people’s mental wellbeing, as a company believing in holistic health it’s positive to see that we are investing in our wellbeing in a number of ways to give our immunity and general health a much-needed boost, from taking more exercise to lowering stress levels, prioritising sleep and eating a healthier diet.

“It’s also interesting to see a growing trend across a range of wellbeing practices including meditation and mindfulness to massage and weekend digital detoxes.”

A copy of the new 2021 Sunstar Global Healthy Thinking report containing all the survey findings and analysis can be downloaded here:

About the research:

15 countries surveyed across Europe, North/South America and Asia comprising;

– UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Netherlands

– US, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil

– Japan, China, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia

(Nationally representative sample, 1,000 minimum per country, 18-65 age group, equal gender split). The survey was conducted in March 2021.

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