Shopping habits reveal desire for a healthy life

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Australians are eating better and exercising more but mental health, anxiety and sleep quality remain a concern, according to new research from Woolworths Group’s digital wellness hub, HealthyLife.

Published in the first annual ‘HealthyLife Living Healthy Report’, the findings combined data from a 2000-person national survey with analysis from 25 million weekly purchases made at Woolworths supermarkets between 2019 and 2021 – the report sheds light on the impact of the pandemic on the nation’s health.

“The pandemic has provided a unique circuit breaker and a focus on health we haven’t seen before,” says Simone Austin, HealthyLife Chief Health Officer.

“As a result, we have seen a number of positive health improvements.”

Eating well

The report found:

  • 1 in 3 Australians are eating better now, compared with two years ago and believe they are healthier as a result.
  • Almost a third of Australians believe they are eating less highly processed food.
  • 41% of Australians are cooking more at home than they did two years ago.

“However, while the survey data showed some Australians said they are now eating less highly processed food, our basket data reveals the average shop consists of a third of ‘discretionary’ foods, such as soft drinks, potato chips and ice cream,” says Ms Austin.

Moving well

Working from home has potentially had a positive impact on physical activity, with 33% of Australians saying they are integrating more movement, exercise at home and online classes into their days now, compared with two years ago.

However, a third of Australians are not doing any muscle-strengthening activity.

Feeling well

A positive outcome is that 28% of people feel they have become more resilient since the pandemic which may help them cope with stress, and significantly more families (35%) indicated that their resilience had improved since pre-Covid-19.

However, 1 in 4 Australians believe their mental health has been negatively impacted by the pandemic, with watching television the most common strategy used to maintain mental health.

58% say their quality of sleep is average or poor, with 39% stating anxiety is the biggest factor affecting their sleep quality.

Supporting wellness

To help customers better understand the types of foods they are purchasing, HealthyLife recently launched ‘Food Tracker’.

The program shows shoppers the balance of their basket in servings of food, compared to the Australian Dietary Guidelines recommendations.

HealthyLife also recently launched ‘Ways to Well’, a series of programs to help Australians make small, achievable changes to their lifestyles, including reducing sugar intake.

The wellness hub has also introduced complimentary practitioner consultations, providing customers with accessible and trusted health advice.

“Despite the challenging last two years,” says Ms Austin, “it’s clear as a nation we’ve made many positive changes.”

“But we still have a way to go. Using the report insights, we want to turn talk into action and help make living a healthier life more achievable for everyone,” she says.