Global: Financial security and health
April 25th, 2022, Christien Pheby

Global: Financial security and health

“[The] peculiar evil is this: the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food”, wrote George Orwell in The Road to Wigan Pier. “A millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits; an unemployed man doesn’t.”

Is there a correlation between having money, and having more "wholesome" habits? Data from YouGov Global Profiles explores how financial security (or the lack thereof) correlates with attitudes towards health, nutrition, and exercise.

Financial security by region

First, it’s worth looking at where people are most and least likely to consider themselves financially stable.

Across the world, 45% of people agree that they are financially secure, compared to 21% who do not. Breaking this down by region, nearly half (48%) of consumers in the Americas and MENA consider themselves comfortable, with slightly less saying the same in Europe (45%) and APAC (44%). While we can go into significantly more detail on a regional and local level, this piece will focus on the average attitudes across all markets in Global Profiles.

Financially secure people are more likely to exercise and spend money on healthy food

So what does being "secure" mean in terms of individual health? For one thing, it means you're more likely to have a balanced diet. Those who are financially secure are more likely to consider themselves healthy eaters (65%); among those who are not, this falls to just two in five (42%). The more comfortable group also say they “don’t eat junk food or allow [their] family to eat it” (42% vs. 24%) in higher numbers.

This group are likelier to “choose diet or healthy versions of their favourite products” (51% vs. 34%) (which can be more expensive than their less-healthy equivalents) and to agree that they “don’t mind paying more for goods that don’t contain artificial additives” (62% vs. 47%). A greater proportion of financially secure people say they count calories (37% vs. 20%) and make an effort to eat enough fruit and vegetables (77% vs. 64%).

Beyond diet, a larger percentage of financially secure people report that they try to hit the gym as often as possible (39% vs. 21%), that they exercise at least once per week (67% vs. 48%), and that working out to stay fit is “important” to them (71% vs. 55%). Again, considering that these forms of exercise can represent a significant outlay on a recurring (e.g. a gym membership) or one-off basis (e.g. home workout equipment), this might be a matter of access as much as intent.

Overall, Orwell’s “peculiar evil” may linger into the present day: YouGov Global Profiles shows that, if you can afford to eat well and go to the gym, you’re more likely to have beliefs and behaviours that foster good health.


YouGov Profiles is based on continuously collected data and rolling surveys, rather than from a single limited questionnaire. Learn more about Profiles.

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