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Parents: Do as I say, not as I do when it comes to health

Australian children lack healthy role models who walk the talk, according to an international report released today.

Bupa Health Pulse Survey 2012 reveals seven in 10 Australian parents who are overweight or obese believe they are a top source for their children’s education about living a healthy lifestyle.

Interestingly, despite not getting it right themselves, almost two thirds (63%) of these parents discuss the importance of eating well with their children, and just over half (54%) talk to their kids about getting enough exercise.

Health Pulse results indicate the number one health concern for parents is that their children don’t have a healthy diet, followed by their children not getting enough exercise. This outranks other concerns such as children getting into accidents or developing a disease or illness.

Bupa’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr Paul Bates said parents were in danger of sending mixed signals by acting in contradictory ways to the health lessons they were trying to teach.

“We need to ensure that parents are properly equipped to pass along the right health messages so that children lead healthier lifestyles and that parents feel comfortable enough to lead by example,” Dr Bates said.

Alarmingly, one in 10 parents surveyed don’t speak to their children about their health at all and rate other family members, school, the internet and the media as key sources for their children’s health messages.

International swimming champion and father to an 11 month old, Geoff Huegill understands kicking bad habits can seem like an uphill battle.

“I know firsthand just how easy it is to become complacent about diet and exercise, but as a new father I’ve come to value my health habits more than ever,” Huegill said.

“My daughter is less than a year old, but she’s already watching my every move, so I can see how it would be contradictory for me to eat take-away food in front of the TV while telling her she should live a healthy lifestyle.

“It might seem like bad habits are impossible to shake, but it’s amazing how little steps towards a healthier lifestyle can make a really big difference. Parents are incredibly time poor and their first priority is usually caring for their family, but putting the effort into making changes to their own lives can help their children follow in their footsteps.”

The survey also revealed that close to six in 10 Australians (57%) believe they were healthier as youngsters than children are today.

On a positive note, almost half of parents (49%) talk to their children about their emotions. This is a significant shift, with only 19% of today’s parents claiming to have had this type of dialogue with their own parents when growing up.

For more information about Bupa’s services and health assessment tools, visit

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For all media inquiries, please contact:

Lindsay McHugh
Porter Novelli on behalf of Bupa
Phone: +61 2 8987 2100
Mobile: 0433 757 637
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Phone:+61 3 9937 4082
Mobile: 0400 120 978
About Bupa in Australia
As a leading healthcare business in Australia, Bupa’s purpose is to help Australians live longer, healthier, happier lives. Bupa proudly provides health insurance to more than three million Australians (previously under the well known health insurance brands MBF, HBA, and Mutual Community), as well as complementary healthcare services through Bupa Health Dialog, Peak Health Management and Blink Optical. Bupa Care Services is an aged care provider with 47 facilities around Australia. Bupa focuses on providing sustainable healthcare solutions that represent real value, and on leading the industry in the promotion of preventive health and wellness – helping customers better manage their health for the long-term. Bupa’s Australian businesses are part of the international Bupa Group, which cares for more than 30 million people in over 190 countries.

iA total of 14,528 respondents were interviewed across 13 countries using online panels between 21st March and 4th May 2012. Respondents were all panel members and therefore had indicated their willingness to participate in surveys. Panel members are from the general public and quotas were set to make all data nationally representative of the offline population where possible. Weighting was also conducted on this basis. The international report focused on four key areas: the health status of people and their families, health influences, health information and responsibility for health.

Interviews took place in the following countries: Great Britain (2024 respondents), Spain (1005), Australia (1204), Mexico (1017), India (1011), US (1003), Brazil (1000), China (1002), New Zealand (1008), Saudi Arabia (1179), Thailand (1003), Hong Kong (1004), Egypt (1068).

iiBased on their BMI. The body mass index (BMI) is a statistical measure of body weight based on a respondents stated weight and height. Though it does not actually measure the percentage of body fat, it is used to estimate a healthy body weight based on a person’s height.