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Many Australians 'too polite' to sound health alarm on family weight problems

Many Australians 'too polite' to sound health alarm on family weight problems

Nearly 30% of Australians would fail or hesitate to warn a partner or family member that they were obese even if it meant their health was at risk, according to the latest national Bupa Healthwatch survey.

In another surprise finding, the survey of 1,200 Australians showed that men are less likely than women to tolerate the poor personal hygiene habits of work colleagues and friends. But women were more likely than men to encourage a partner or family member to get a medical check up for a particular health problem.

The survey also showed that failing to cover up coughs and sneezes, failing to wash hands after visiting the toilet and going to work when sick are the three bad health habits that people find most annoying in public.

The Bupa Healthwatch survey (PDF, 95.9Kb) - released today to coincide with the official opening of Bupa's new Sydney CBD flagship retail centre - also showed women are more likely than men to urge a partner or family member to have a medical check up for a particular health problem.

Bupa Chief Medical Officer Dr Christine Bennett said the apparent reluctance of some people to sound the alarm on the health risk of obesity to their loved ones was a concern.

"It is unfortunate that a significant number of people would fail or be reluctant to raise concern about weight issues perhaps because we are taught from childhood that commenting on someone's weight is considered bad manners.

"Trying to be polite could mean that people close to us miss out on a sensitive but timely call to address weight issues to avoid health problems such as heart disease and diabetes.

"In contrast, the Bupa Healthwatch survey shows that people are more likely to encourage a partner or family member to obtain a medical check up when a particular health condition emerges. It is just as important to speak up about obesity when it poses a threat to someone's future health and wellbeing."

Key findings of the Bupa Healthwatch survey included:

Q. Would you tell a family member of partner if you felt they were unhealthily overweight?
 
Yes
No
Maybe/not sure
Women
71%
15%
14%
Men
71%
15%
14%
Q. Would you tell a family member or partner if you felt they needed a medical check up for a particular issue?
 
Yes
No
Maybe/not sure
Women
84%
8%
8%
Men
77%
11%
12%
Q. Would you tell a close friend or work colleague if you felt they had a problem with personal hygiene?
 
Yes
No
Maybe/not sure
Women
32%
31%
37%
Men
42%
30%
28%
Q. Which of these do you find most annoying in public places or at work?
Not covering coughs and sneezes
42%
Not washing hands after bathroom visits
20%
Going to work when sick
18%
Littering with dirty tissues
8%
Sending sick children to school
8%

About Bupa

Bupa has been looking after Australians for more than 60 years. As a leading private health insurer, our primary aim is to help all Australians live longer, healthier and happier lives.

Bupa proudly covers around 1.7 million Australians - giving them the confidence to better manage their health and care needs. We have a broad range of quality health insurance products to support people at all of life's different stages, and we have an extensive member centre network across the country. Recently, we were independently assessed by CANNEX and received a 'Best Value Extras Cover' award, as well as a five star rating as one of Australia's best value health insurers.

In addition to our core private health insurance business, the Bupa group of companies offers life and travel insurance, as well as financial planning, superannuation and managed investment products through ClearView Financial Solutions, ClearView Life Nominees and Bupa Life.