Usage of AIG Life’s digital health and wellbeing service Smart Health more than doubled at the peak of the pandemic
AIG Life Limited is urging the protection industry to build on the UK government's recently launched ‘Better Health' campaign and make health and wellbeing benefits integral to customer conversations.
Sue Helmont, marketing director at AIG Life Limited, said the UK intermediary and protection sector should use the shared experience of living through a global pandemic to reinforce the value of financial advice and the availability of health and wellbeing services.
"I applaud the government for using its Better Health ad campaign to suggest this is a reset moment in life. People want to actively manage their health - as well as their wealth," said Helmont.
Financial advisers have a unique opportunity to reconnect with their clients
"What's great is this industry already offers that help. Thousands of customers have used digital wellbeing services like Smart Health on demand during the pandemic. It shows the industry is moving into a different era where consumers increasingly expect immediate, ongoing, personalised services," she added.
Data compiled by AIG Life Limited reveals its digital health and wellbeing service Smart Health, delivered by global telehealth provider Teladoc Health, was used almost 4000 times at the peak of the pandemic - more than double its usage since launch in August 2019.
Most demand (70%) between March and June was for access to a UK-registered phone or video GP, allowing people to free NHS resources and focus on Covid-19.
Diet and fitness
One in six (17%) Smart Health users asked for personalised help with nutrition and fitness.
One in 10 (11%) have requested an exercise plan since the wellbeing service was launched in 2019, though over half of all requests (53%) were made between March and June this year - suggesting lockdown and the pandemic have prompted people to improve their fitness.
Almost half (48%) of requests for a nutritionist's help also came between March and June. Yet it seems people make common mistakes about how to manage diet.
Analysis of nutritionist consultations found individuals thinklarge quantities of high in sugar "diet-labelled" food are acceptable, or miss the need for a calorie deficit to lose weight. Common errors include:
- Unsustainable, unhealthy and ineffective fad diets - most people attempt to lose weight by cutting out whole food groups and using various juice cleanses or detox teas.
- Eating healthily needs portion control - eating too much of even the healthiest foods will sabotage weight loss attempts.
- People fear plant-based diets - the misconception is you can't get enough protein and essential nutrients on a plant-based diet.
- Believing all carbohydrates are bad for you- cutting out complex, wholegrain varieties of carbohydrates that are essential sources of energy, fibre, micronutrients and B vitamins may do more harm than good.
- Unsustainable ‘clean eating' - ignore the80:20 rule of healthy vs a little of the treats you love will lead to a negative relationship with food.
- Not eating ‘5 a day' - guidelines exist for a reason as fruits and vegetables are packed full of disease-fighting micronutrients, antioxidants and gut-loving fibre.
Cause leads to effect
Nutrition is especially important in the long-term fight against illness, according Dr Tim Foggin, medical director at Teladoc Health.
Speaking in a webinar hosted by AIG Life just prior to the government's unveiling of its ‘Better Health' advertising campaign, Dr Foggin referenced a study by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health into serious medical conditions, such as heart attacks and diabetes, that found 80% of situations can be reversed if lifestyle changes are viewed as long-term medical treatment.
He noted our genetics and infectious diseases were aspects of our lives that we may not be able to control, but said with a focus on nutrition and diet, smoking, weight, exercise and activity plus, crucially, sleep, individuals can change their long-term wellbeing.
Helmont added: "Financial advisers have a unique opportunity to reconnect with their clients, tell them about the services they have available and make sure they get the health support they need.
"NHS resources will only continue to be stretched and you already help their financial wellbeing - show the value of your advice and tell them how you've looked after their health too."
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