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Putting on weight? Blame the economy

Thursday March 17th 2011

Can't sleep with worry? Literally feel sick fearing you will lose your job? you're not alone. The downturn in the economy has a lot to answer for, including making us fatter according to insurance firm, mortgage insurance and income protection insurance.

As part of its research into causes of sickness in a recession, insurer helpucover highlights the link between stress and weight gain. A spokesperson for helpucover says "It's well documented that when we are stressed we release more of the stress hormone, Cortisol which can slow down our metabolism and send us reaching for comfort food ². But as the economy tightens its belt, more people need to loosen theirs. From 2007 to 2009, the percentage of people admitted to hospital and diagnosed with obesity as the primary cause of illness, has more than doubled to 53.23% Recent obesity figures now show one in four Britons are now obese or overweight.

People from all backgrounds are being affected by the economy and debt worry. The knock on effect is making more of us obese due to the increasing cost of healthy food, poor lifestyle choices and stress.

Only 14% of British people are eating the recommended five a day of fruit and veg, so we are piling on the pounds6. If people do cook it's with cheaper carbohydrates like pasta, rice and potatoes which can also lead to weight gain. People are sacrificing the monthly gym membership and bonding with their sofas instead.

"We can't afford to go out so we're staying in and comfort eating" says Barbara Russell from "We're relying on fast food or takeaways, the psychological 'replacement' to eating out. Sadly as many adults feel they have little to look forward to in tough economic times; food and drink are becoming the last pleasure to go."

And while our pets might not worry about losing their job, they are getting fatter too. Too many of us are sharing our TV snack with our pets.

Gillian Clarke was recently unemployed for several months. She says that once she faced up to her redundancy shock she made changes in her life to save money. Gillian advises those suffering from stress over money to "try to get things in perspective and accept there is little anyone can do when times are tough except cut their cloth accordingly". To save pounds in every way, Gillian cut out wine and chocolate in the week and avoided multibuys at supermarkets for fresh produce. "I ended up throwing so much food away" said Gillian. I also looked out for vouchers so I could occasionally eat out. I found stress made me worse and I did eat more."

Top tips to beat stress:
· Some form of exercise, even walking, can get your body's defences working and help to bring stress levels down.
· A good balanced diet is essential when you are feeling stressed.
· Instead of thinking: "It's all over and there's nothing I can do about it." Try thinking: "How can I attack the problem in manageable pieces?"
· Talking to someone will help you realise that you are not on your own and help to reduce tension.

YouGov Household Economic Activity Tracker Feb 2011
Approximately 26% on average feel less secure in their job this month compared to last, while 69% report no change.
Study, by California University in San Francisco and Minnesota University

Hospital Episode statistics – NHS Information Centre Feb 2010
NHS Information Centre – Statistics on obesity, physical activity and diet 2010
Science Magazine Department of psychiatry and Biomedical Engineering University Cincinnati College of Medicine Sept 2010
Survey from the Food Standards Agency
BMC Public Health Study based on 9000 German people
London Metropolitan University Study 2009
PFMA's White Paper entitled: Pet Obesity: The Reality in 2009

For media enquiries, please contact: (Cardif Pinnacle)
Barbara Russell – Head of Marketing
07887 748883 Sarah Potter – Communications Manager
07833 095594

Notes to Editors
About is a trading style of Pinnacle Insurance plc - one of the UK's leading insurers. "Pinnacle Insurance plc is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority".

About Cardif Pinnacle
Cardif Pinnacle (a trading style of Pinnacle Insurance plc) is the UK insurance unit of BNP Paribas Assurance, which is the life and property & casualty arm of BNP Paribas. BNP Paribas Assurance counts over 8,000 employees, 74% of them outside France. BNP Paribas Assurance had gross written premiums of €20.7 billion in 2009. It generated 41% of its 2009 gross written premiums outside France. BNP Paribas Assurance is the world leader in creditor insurance and the fourth-largest life insurance company in France. BNP Paribas Assurance is actively committed to exemplary Corporate Social Responsibility. It has adopted a Socially Responsible Investment program, encourages diversity throughout the enterprise (earning the "Equality at Work" label in France) and supports local economic development in the markets where it operates.

Formed in 1971 and currently employing circa 750 staff in the UK, Cardif Pinnacle has established itself as a leading provider of Protection solutions. Cardif Pinnacle acquired Warranty Direct and Direct Life and Pension Services in 2008, specialists in the provision of warranty and life insurance products.

With an emphasis on quality of service for clients and customers, Cardif Pinnacle is a preferred partner to more than 250 of the UK's leading Banks, Building Societies, Finance Houses and Intermediaries.