Global: What do people think of these 4 common health axioms?
May 11th, 2023, Hoang Nguyen

Global: What do people think of these 4 common health axioms?

There are plenty of axioms and adages related to health that have, over time, become conventional wisdom.

Some instances of this axiomatic health knowledge include drinking eight glasses of water a day, getting eight hours of sleep, doing ab exercises to get a six-pack and walking 10,000 steps a day to name a few.

In a new YouGov poll, we surveyed more than 19,000 consumers across 18 global markets to understand their belief in several common health axioms.

Eight hours of sleep

Let’s start with sleep, which we know is vital to maintain good health. When global consumers were asked whether they agree or disagree that you need eight hours of sleep, roughly three-quarters said they agreed with the statement.

Respondents aged 18-24 (76%) and 35-54 were more likely to agree with the heath advice while those aged 55+ were less likely to agree.

According to the Sleep Foundation, different age groups need different amounts of sleep. Younger children and teens tend to require more nightly sleep than adults (the latter is recommended at least 7 or more hours of sleep).

Water consumption

Another common piece of health advice is that you need to drink two liters or 8 glasses of water a day. Water is critical to regulating body temperature, lubricating joints, protecting sensitive tissues and getting rid of waste but how much water you need a day tends to vary by several factors such as gender, exercise, environment and overall health.

Experts from the Mayo Clinic indicate that men need at least 15.5 cups (3.7 liters) of fluids a day while women require 11.5 cups (2.7 liters). If you exercise you will need more water to cover the fluid loss and environmental factors such as hot weather or high altitudes will require additional fluid intake.

On this topic, 71% of global consumers agree that you need to drink eight glasses of water a day. There’s regional variation too, with consumers in places with more temperate climates such as Great Britain (65%), France (65%), Sweden (55%) and Canada (67%) being less likely to agree with the statement.

Consumers in countries such as Indonesia (79%), India (85%), Mexico (86%), the UAE (80%) and Italy (84%) are more inclined to agree compared to other markets.

Fruit and vegetable consumption

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), fruits and vegetables are vital to a healthy, balanced diet as they’re a good source of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber. They're also evidenced to reduce your risk of heart disease, stroke and even some forms of cancer.

The ideal amount is to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables in total throughout the day and portion sizes vary by the type of fruit and vegetables consumed.

Most consumers seem on board with this advice, with 64% of respondents worldwide saying they agree. On this, there’s variation by age. Young consumers aged 18 to 34 are less likely to agree (60%) while those aged 45 and over are more likely to agree (67%).


The advice to walk 10,000 steps a day has been widely disseminated for decades and touted more recently by wearable devices and fitness trackers. As it turns out, that number was made up by Japanese marketers selling pedometers back in 1965.

More recently, research conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association has found that there’s nothing particularly special about 10,000 steps and that it’s closer to 7,000 steps that’s a more important inflection point for better health outcomes.

So what do consumers tend to believe? Close to two-thirds globally (64%) say they agree that you should walk 10,000 steps a day. There are regional differences abound when it comes to health axiom, with consumers in Great Britain (59%), Sweden (59%), the US (56%), China (51%), and Indonesia (59%) being significantly less likely to agree.

Those in the UAE (71%), Hong Kong (71%), Spain (70%), Italy (77%) and India (76%) were significantly more likely to agree.

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Photo by Emma Simpson on Unsplash