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Global citizens’ feeling of health and well-being not linked to a nation’s wealth


Launch of Philips Index for Health and Well-being report provides insights into people’s health and well-being across the world:

•Emerging economies achieve some of the highest global health and well-being scores, whereas developed nations have amongst the lowest
•91% of us say our health lies in our own hands, but most seem unwilling to take action
•The cost of living and earnings are our two biggest concerns
•Relaxing with friends and family is the global panacea
•Everyone is more satisfied with friends and family than with their partners
•Almost half of us expect to live beyond 80

Amsterdam, The Netherlands – Royal Philips Electronics (AEX: PHI, NYSE: PHG) published today the ‘Philips Index for Health and Well-being: A global perspective’. The report reveals that people in India, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) and Singapore feel significantly more positive about their state of health and well-being when asked than those in some of the most developed economies of the world, such as Japan, much of Europe and the Americas. These results reflect the differing importance and satisfaction people place on issues relating to health, jobs and personal relationships, which the report identifies as the fundamental drivers to health and well-being1.

“Philips is a people-focused company and the Philips Index has been created to explore what it is that drives our sense of health and well-being so that we can respond to the needs of an increasingly urban and aging population,” Katy Hartley, Director of The Philips Center for Health & Well-being, commented. “Philips will continue to build on these trends to expand leadership in our key businesses.”

The report, which examines global mega-trends in health and well-being, marks the culmination of a massive global consumer research initiative in which The Philips Center for Health & Well-being surveyed over 31,000 people across 23 countries.

Does wealth equal health?
The report reveals that six out of ten respondents rate their overall health and well-being as good. However, on deeper analysis the US, Brazil and much of Europe are not doing as well as they think, in contrast with much of Asia and Asia-Pacific. Specifically, populations in the UAE (88%), the KSA (78%) and India (72%) have the highest actual satisfaction with their health and well-being, and Japan (27%) the lowest.

We rate physical and mental health as the two most important drivers for our overall health and well-being and, in terms of the Physical Health Index2, the Japanese (24%) and British (40%) are amongst those who rate their physical health lowest, with the UAE (93%) and India (84%) rating it the highest. Dissatisfaction with weight is a common theme across all countries and there is a strong correlation between weight and satisfaction with overall physical health, especially amongst women.

When it comes to the Emotional Health Index3, scores mirror those for the physical to some extent, with the UAE (94%) again faring the best and Japan (26%) the worst, indicating that our physical and emotional health are potentially linked. Unsurprisingly, stress is also a significant driver of our health and well-being affecting 70% of respondents, with the highest levels reported in India (95%), Taiwan (94%) and Korea (94%). In many countries concerns about meeting healthcare costs are a key source of stress, particularly in the UAE (70%), Singapore (68%) and the US (67%).

Do we care enough about our health to do something about it?
Nine out of ten respondents believe that responsibility for looking after our health lies firmly in our own hands. However, it’s clear that our sense of personal responsibility doesn’t always translate into action, as although almost two thirds of us will go and see a doctor if we have a specific health issue, more than half (51%) of us are unlikely to follow-up on our doctor’s advice, and only 39% of us go for the medical tests we are supposed to.

Sadly, but perhaps predictably, only 42% of us believe we are as physically fit as we can be for our age and a mere 22% of us would say we are in better shape than ever before. And, despite the public health initiatives that many of us are bombarded with, almost half of those surveyed state that they don’t exercise as much as they should, and only 36% think they eat more healthily than the rest of their population.

Doctors are still the number one source of medical information for most countries, the exception being Japan, where the Internet takes precedence. The Netherlands (38%), Brazil (32%) and Italy (29%) are the most likely to use the Internet for a first medical opinion, whilst Asian populations are more likely to ask family and friends.

Work to live, or live to work?
Jobs are a significant driver for our health and well-being, and issues relating to our jobs, including paying bills, saving for the future and the threat of potential job losses, are the source of many of our stresses. In particular, how much we earn and the cost of living, have a major impact on our perceptions of health and well-being.

Perhaps surprisingly, those with the largest gaps in satisfaction with regards to their cost-of -living are from the mature economic centres of Japan (-65%), the UK (-57%) and the US (-54%) , a factor that is no doubt contributing to these nations’ lower overall health and well-being scores. Based on earnings alone4, the Turkish (46%) are the most satisfied, and the Japanese (-67%) and Brazilians (-45%) the least. When it comes to time off work, respondents from Turkey (34%) and France (16%) are the most content, whereas for many countries in Asia, lack of holiday is a matter of concern. Based on the Job Index scores5, it seems people who work in the Middle East (UAE 75%, KSA 63%) are most fulfilled in their work, with the least fulfilled being those working in Japan (21%) and the UK (27%).

More satisfied with friends than with our partners
Whereas stresses around jobs and the economy detract from our overall sense of health and well-being, spending time relaxing at home and with friends and family, are the main ways we enhance our sense of well-being. This influence is most notable in the Middle East and Asia, where it is likely a key contributor to the high Health and Well-being Index scores seen in many of these markets. The exception is Japan where it has the lowest influence and, interestingly, the lowest Index scores. The Germans, Americans and Spanish are the most likely to spend time with family and friends, either relaxing at home or doing something outdoors. The Dutch place more emphasis on relaxing at home than spending time with family and friends, and the Koreans favour spending time on their hobbies.

The report reveals that although we’re generally satisfied with our relationships with family and friends, the majority of us are dissatisfied with the amount of time we have available to spend with them. And, perhaps worryingly for our partners, every country surveyed – without exception – indicated that they are more satisfied with their relationships with friends than with their spouses or partners, with the biggest differences seen in Germany, the UK and the US. Thankfully, we are still more satisfied with our partners than we are with our bosses and co-workers, although there is only a slight difference between them in almost half the countries, particularly in China.

Are we aging well?
Respondents are optimistic about their life-expectancy, with 45% of people believing they will live to more than 80 years of age, and nearly two thirds expecting to live as long as, or longer than their parents. The Australians are most optimistic about their longevity, with 50% expecting to live to 90 years old or more, however their over 65s are also the least satisfied in the world with their health and well-being (21%).

In addition, the report shows we are more concerned about degenerative conditions that might have a direct impact on our ability to live independently, such as declining vision (30%) and arthritis (28%), than we are about the ‘big killers’ - cancer (16%) and heart attack (15%).

Interestingly, the over 65s have a more positive view of their fitness levels than the rest of their respective populations, with more than half (55%) believing they are as fit as they can be for their age. The most notable differences were seen in Brazil (75%) and the US (75%) where the over 65s were much more likely to say they were as fit as they could be compared to their overall populations (Brazil 24%, US 51%).

Philips is hosting a Livable Cities Webcast featuring the latest insights on the topic from a panel of internationally renowned experts. Underpinning the debate will be new data from the Philips Health and Well-being Index. The webcast will take place on November 11, 2010 at 17:00 CET. For more information or to submit a question to the panel, please visit

1. The Health and Well-being Index is a robust and comprehensive measure of overall health and well-being that has been calculated by weighting the stated importance of 17 components of health and well-being against one’s satisfaction with each of those components.

2. The Physical Health Index is a weighted score of stated importance and satisfaction on questions relating to physical health and weight.

3. The Emotional Health Index is a weighted score of stated importance and satisfaction on questions relating to mental health, stress, community, free time alone and worship.

4. To give a more accurate reflection of the components being examined, gap scores represent the difference between stated importance and satisfaction.

5. The Job Index is a weighted score of stated importance and satisfaction on questions relating to earnings, co-worker relationships and vacation time.


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