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Brits doctor the truth at GP surgery

2nd December 2010 Print

Saga Health Club questioned 12,339 people over the age of 50 and found that 22% would not tell their GP if asked, the whole truth about how much alcohol they drink and 17% would tell white lies about their diet.

Women are more misleading than men and more likely to lie about five out of six key health influencers including smoking, weight, exercise, diet and stress levels.  Men, however, are more likely to play down the amount of alcohol they drink.

According to the survey, people that live in Northern Ireland were least truthful about how many cigarettes they smoke with people living in Scotland and the East Midlands being most truthful.

East Anglians are the most truthful about how much alcohol they drink and people in Yorkshire and the Humber most truthful about their weight.

With advances in healthcare provision largely credited for the increase in people living longer, it seems that many Brits are still failing to come clean on their lifestyle habits to healthcare professionals.

The six health influencers

Saga asked the over 50s how truthful they would be with their GP about various health aspects.

Almost a quarter of men (24%) and one in five women (21%) would not be completely truthful with their GP about the amount of alcohol they drink.

One in five women (20%) and 15% of men will avoid the truth about their diet.

Almost the same number, 18 per cent of women and 15 per cent of men, will not admit exactly how much exercise they do.

Twice as many women as men (12% and 6% respectively) will lie about their weight to a doctor - even when they are standing face to face with them.

More women than men (16% and 12% respectively) will try to put a brave face on the amount of stress they are under.Five per cent of men and six per cent of women polled will lie to their GP about the extent of their nicotine habit. However, this figure includes non-smokers, which latest ONS figures show to be 79% of all Brits.

Ros Altmann, Saga Director-General comments:  "It seems a shame that people are not comfortable being honest about health and lifestyle issues. Even with their GP.  The fantastic medical advances of recent years should enable the over 50s to stay fit and healthy so they can enjoy extra leisure time as they come up to and enter retirement perhaps they would be more honest in a private on-line questionnaire."

In order to encourage people to get a true picture of their own health, Saga has launched a free online Health Club, which includes an assessment of their health and how their current lifestyle influences it.  A personal action plan created for them helps users set achievable targets and goals and review their progress towards getting healthier in manageable steps.

To join the free Saga Health Club visit