Older and healthier

Older and healthier

Asian consumers know what healthy ageing involves but worry they won't measure up, says survey

Asia Pacific consumers have a clear vision for healthy ageing, but fear of illness due to lower immunity tops the list of ageing-related worries, a regional survey has found.

Fewer than three in 10 consumers have the confidence that they will be able to age healthily, according to the 2020 Asia Pacific Healthy Ageing Survey conducted by the global nutrition company, Herbalife Nutrition.

"The findings showed that many people worry about falling ill due to lower immunity as they age - a likely result of their changing health concerns due to the ongoing pandemic," said Stephen Conchie, senior vice-president and managing director of Herbalife Nutrition Asia Pacific.

"Additionally, we observed that consumers in Northeast Asian markets, where the ageing population is particularly notable, have lower levels of confidence in their ability to age healthily compared to their Southeast Asian counterparts."

The survey set out to shed light on Asia Pacific consumers' ageing-related fears, concerns, confidence levels and actions by polling equal numbers of people from different generations: Generation Z (18-23 years), Millennials (24-39), Generation X (40-55) and Boomer+ (55 and older) in 11 markets -- Australia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam.

It was the third edition of the survey in Asia Pacific, which now boasts the highest average life expectancy in the world, influenced heavily by figures in rich countries such as Japan and Singapore.

Based on the findings, only 28% of consumers expressed confidence in their ability to age healthily. Consumers in Southeast Asia were generally more confident than those in Northeast Asia. Indonesia had the greatest confidence (61%), followed by Malaysia (44%) and the Philippines (43%). Respondents in South Korea (17%), Taiwan (17%), Hong Kong (13%) and Japan (9%) displayed the lowest confidence.

Across demographic groups, Generation Z (31%) and Millennials (32%) displayed greater confidence in their ability to age healthily as compared to their older Generation X (26%) and Boomer+ (24%) counterparts.

Noting that Healthy Ageing Month recently took place in September, Mr Conchie said it was "an opportune time for us to deepen awareness about the need to take steps toward healthy ageing earlier in life".

"We believe that a healthy diet and an active lifestyle can play a part in slowing down or preventing many age-related concerns from materialising."

When asked to define healthy ageing in more tangible terms, Asia Pacific consumers painted a positive picture. Respondents said healthy ageing is about being mentally active and sharp (61%), physically active (57%), not suffering from any chronic or acute illness (56%), living a free and independent life (52%) and not being a burden to their family as they age (51%).

Over half (54%) of consumers believe that discussions on how to age healthily should begin between the ages of 30 and 49. The most common reason given for postponing discussions about ageing was that they are still young, followed by the prioritisation of their present health and lifestyle.

For those who are concerned about ageing, two-thirds (60%) of consumers started to have concerns between the ages of 30 and 59, with bone- and joint-related issues topping the list of specific concerns, followed by brain-related and eye-related issues.

Nonetheless, the majority of Asia Pacific consumers understand the importance of healthy ageing, with 73% saying they had taken steps to help age healthily. Those steps include: making better nutrition choices (73%), engaging in more regular physical activity (69%), engaging in mentally stimulating activities or hobbies (50%), taking supplements that promote healthy ageing (46%), going for more regular health check-ups (42%).

Across demographic groups, a larger proportion (75%) of older consumers such as the Boomer+ generation have taken steps toward healthy ageing as compared to their younger Generation X (70%) and Millennial counterparts (71%). Generation Z consumers seem least likely to be moving in this direction, with only 65% having done so.

"Most Asia Pacific consumers have already begun to consider adopting positive habits to age more healthily," said Mr Conchie. "However, with the fear of ageing being prominent among consumers, we see a crucial need to help them strengthen their confidence in their ability to take proper actions.

"We believe that by sharing education on adopting the right nutritional habits and appropriate physical activities, we can help people find the right path toward healthy ageing."

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