BRUSSELS -- Germans score slightly better than Britons on the Gallup-Healthways Healthy Behavior Index, which measures four elements of a healthy lifestyle. Germany's lead on the index, however, is primarily due to German women, who score six points higher than UK women and 11 points higher than German men.
This Healthy Behaviors Index is a key component of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which provides a comprehensive monthly measure of Germans' and Britons' physical, emotional, and financial health. Specifically, the index asks respondents about their exercise, eating, and smoking habits.
Germans Exercise More Than Britons, Especially German Women
German adults are much more likely to report frequent exercise than are Britons -- 75% vs. 54%. German men and women are more likely to exercise than their counterparts in the UK, but German women beat British women by a wider margin -- they are 24 percentage points more likely to report exercising three or more days per week. Additionally, while British men and women are equally likely to exercise frequently, German women are more likely than German men to exercise three or more days per week.
These patterns in exercise reflect what Gallup found in comparing the habits of residents living in Berlin and London -- with women in the German capital much more likely to exercise frequently than those in the UK capital.
Britons Best Germans in Healthy Eating, Particularly Among Men
Britons outperform Germans adults overall on two measures of healthy eating -- they are more likely to say they ate healthy all day "yesterday" and to eat fruits and vegetables frequently. It is German men, though, who are more responsible for the nation's comparative disadvantage. They are eight points less likely than British men to say they ate healthy yesterday, while German women only lag UK women by three points on this measure. The gender gap on this item is significant within Germany, where women's reports of healthy eating outpace men by 12 points, but the gender gap is nonexistent in the UK.
The pattern in produce consumption habits is slightly different. There is a gender gap on this measure in the UK and Germany, with women besting men in both nations. Still, British men and women are more likely than their German counterparts to say they eat five servings of fruits and vegetables four or more days per week.
Gallup and Healthways found UK adults had better eating habits than Germans in 2011 as well.
British Are Less Likely to Smoke
Britons also outdo Germans in terms of smoking -- they are slightly more likely to report that they do not smoke. However, that really reflects the difference between German and British men -- 67% vs. 74% -- because in both countries eight in 10 women are nonsmokers.
These data underscore that it is important for leaders to understand existing gender differences in behaviors in order to properly craft strategies for improving residents' healthy habits. Targeting campaigns and policies more effectively by addressing specific gender issues could prove to be more successful than addressing the population as a whole. For example, German men are in greater need of reducing their smoking rate than are German women.
There is also much countries can learn from one another in developing policies for bettering their constituents' health. The UK should look to Germany to understand why residents there are highly likely to exercise frequently. And Germany can study why Britons have better eating habits. Uncovering the reasons for these differences would help both countries decrease their equally troublesome weight issues.
About the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index tracks well-being in the U.S., U.K., and Germany and provides best-in-class solutions for a healthier world. To learn more, please visit well-beingindex.com.
Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey from Jan. 1-Aug. 31, 2012, with a random sample of 7,786 adults, aged 18 and older, living in Germany, and a random sample of 7,941 adults, aged 18 and older, living in the UK, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.
For results based on the total sample of national adults, one can say with 95% confidence that the maximum margin of sampling error is ±1.0 percentage points.
Interviews are conducted with respondents on landline telephones and cellular phones. Samples are weighted by gender, age, education, region, adults in the household, and cell phone status. Demographic weighting targets are based on the most recently published population data from the German Statistics Office. All reported margins of sampling error include the computed design effects for weighting and sample design.
In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.
For more details on Gallup's polling methodology, visit www.gallup.com.