Half of UK millennials skip meals to keep weight down

Two thirds of UK millennials admit to 'unhealthy' relationship with food.

  • Half of (51%) 25-34 year olds say they regularly skip meals in order to keep their weight down
  • Two in five (42%) admit to starving themselves before a ‘big night out’, while half (49%) prioritise looking good over a healthy diet
  • Two out of three (65%) millennials also worry they have an “unhealthy relationship” with food
  • Millennials eat just two portions of fruit and veg a day on average, while two in five (41%) snack on unhealthy treats at least once a day.

Millennials are adopting unhealthy habits to keep their weight down, with more than half of UK adults aged 25-34 (51%) skipping meals, analysis from Aviva’s Wellbeing Report shows. Cutting out meals is marginally more common amongst men in this age group: 54% compared to 50% of women aged 25-34.

When it comes to their diet, millennials are willing to sacrifice their health and wellbeing for social purposes, with two in five (42%) saying they starve themselves before an evening out. Close to half (49%) also admit they would rather look good than have a healthy diet.

Two a day
Millennials were found to eat just two pieces of fruit or vegetables per day – less than the national average of three pieces, according to Aviva’s data. Fewer than one in five (17%) manage to eat their ‘five a day’, behind the national average of 21% across all age groups.

Fewer than one in five millennials eat their 'five a day'.

In contrast, they were most likely to have a diet made up of unhealthy snacks,  with two in five (41%) snacking on treats such as chocolate or crisps at least once a day and nearly more than half (57%) stating they sometimes eat ‘naughty’ foods in secret.

Millennials are bombarded by mixed messages when it comes to healthy eating and this confusion is starting to manifest itself in the eating habits and attitudes of this age group.

Many millennials have excuses at the ready however, with three quarters (77%) saying they find healthier foods too expensive and half (51%) saying they are too busy to prepare healthy meals.

UK adults aged 25-34 
 UK women
aged 25-34  
UK men
aged 25-34 
I worry that I don’t have a healthy relationship with food 48%     63%  65%  56% 
I’m not too bothered about how healthily I eat, as long as I look / feel good 45%    49%  46%  55% 
Sometimes I skip meals in order to keep my weight down  38%   51%   50%  54% 
I have dieted at least once in the past, to lose weight 
60%    70%  73%   61% 
I sometimes eat ‘naughty’ foods in secret  45%   57%    58%  55% 
I sometimes starve myself during the day so I can save my calories for a big night out   30%     42%  39%  50% 
I would like to eat more healthily but I sometimes find healthier foods too expensive   67%   77%   78%   75% 
I’m too busy to prepare healthy meals   37%    51%   48%  57% 

Dr Doug Wright, Medical Director, Aviva UK Health comments:

“In a world where instant gratification is often the order of the day, it’s easy to see why some millennials are looking for quick fixes, such as skipping meals and starving oneself to control their weight. But, while such behaviours may lead to faster results, these habits can set long-term wellbeing off course and potentially cause more serious health implications further down the line.

“Millennials are bombarded by mixed messages when it comes to healthy eating and this confusion is starting to manifest itself in the eating habits and attitudes of this age group. Decisions do need to be underpinned by a healthy relationship with food. It is vital as a society we encourage healthy habits from a young age, ensuring people know how they can achieve a balanced lifestyle that is sustainable in the long-term.


Media Enquiries:

Aviva Press Office: 
Sarah Poulter: 07800 691569     sarah.poulter@aviva.com
Monique Crockett: 07800 693182    monique.crockett@aviva.com
Jess Geoghegan: 07800 695673    jess.geoghegan@aviva.com
Based on a survey of 4,205 nationally representative UK adults aged 16 and above carried out by Censuswide Research in November 2017.
‘Millennials’ refers to UK adults aged 25-34. The survey included 706 people in this age group.

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