New Delhi: The age-old adage, ‘Health is Wealth’ couldn’t be truer in the Covid-19 era. An end of year survey conducted by Habit, confirms that being healthy is a top priority for Indians, especially after having lived through the pandemic which has tested emotional, mental and physical health to the limit. With a heightened urgency therefore to make lifestyle changes, a majority of Indians, over 70 per cent, say that they will prioritise dietary changes over going to a gym or fitness centre to improve overall health, immunity and lower stress and anxiety.
A majority of Indians – 71 per cent, felt that their health is worse off today than pre-Covid-19 due to broken eating and fitness habits. There are a number of reasons cited as barriers to better health. These are a lack of time, poor taste of healthy products, and confusing technical details of healthy products exaggerated by the inability to make a choice among the various options. 72 per cent of survey respondents cite lack of time while 66 percent cite the poor taste of healthy items to be their biggest obstacle.
100 per cent of the survey respondents correctly identified what are healthy foods versus junk foods indicating very high awareness about the ill effects of unhealthy options that are full of fats or sugars. However, a bulk – 73 per cent, highlighted that they would still consume unhealthy options since they are tasty, convenient and part of their daily lifestyle. Taste thus reigns supreme in the decision to buy food and a majority still prefers tasty foods that also have nutritional benefits, over healthy foods that may not taste good.
Catalysed by the pandemic, the outlook to what it means to be healthy is undergoing a makeover. The traditional perception of health and fitness being a muscular and toned body is giving way to a more inclusive view of overall wellness where consumers are prioritising lifestyle improvements for improved immunity, lower anxiety, and better focus and alertness.
As per the survey, 70 per cent respondents show a higher inclination than before towards improving their health through dietary changes, whereas nearly one in four, 26 per cent would also like to make meditation a higher priority. 65 per cent also indicate their increased reliance on medical and nutritional experts to help achieve their goals. More than 60 per cent of Indians have a reduced priority than earlier towards traditional gyms and fitness centres, owing to social distancing and avoidance of communal areas in Covid-19 and would prefer to exercise at home or do alternate physical activities like running, cycling or aerobics.
“Crisis drives change, in perception, choices, beliefs and behaviours. Our extensive survey of consumption behaviours in the wake of the pandemic validate that consumer’s outlook on life, health and wellness have undergone a permanent shift. There is a high desire to make lifestyle changes to achieve better health outcomes along with an evolved perception of what it even means to be healthy. The survey highlights that the myth that diet is secondary to exercise in the health journey, is beginning to crumble, with respondents realizing the importance of nutrition and prioritising changes in diet over exercise to achieve better physical and mental health. This is the new normal,” said Dhruv Bhushan, Co-founder & CEO, Habbit. “As the Covid-19 pandemic continues to shift consumer habits towards being more health-conscious, there is an opportunity for food and nutrition companies to win on taste and fuel healthier lifestyles. At Habbit, we intend to do just that, by making everyday nutrition simple, enjoyable and rewarding. As a full-stack nutrition ecosystem, Habbitwill is a one-stop solution for anyone trying to be healthy, with our delicious products, personalised services and engaging tech experiences”.
“Good nutrition is vital to a healthy life and is one of the most singularly important factors in overall health. The food we eat literally becomes who we are, and influences our physical, mental and even emotional well-being. Complemented with physical activity, it helps to maintain the discipline of the body as well as the mind. If the body feels good, the mind will feel good! The pandemic has brought the importance of this balance to the centre”, says nutritionist and wellness coach Avni Kaul, and the founder of Nutri Activania, that helps people discover ‘nutrition for an active life’. Avni was the diet advisor to the Indian contingent during the preparatory session for the Buenos Aires Summer Youth Olympic Games in 2018.
The online survey was conducted in the last quarter of 2020 with 2,428 adults across metros in India. All respondents are in the age group of 22-56 years and have an annual household income of more than Rs. 10 lakhs.