Women’s health – cost of living crisis hitting UK women hard

Women hit by the cost of living crisis are having to make difficult spending choices – at the expense of their health – a new survey has revealed.

Cost of living crisis - women's health

Skipping meals to save money, drinking more alcohol, lying awake worrying about food and fuel bills, delaying medical treatment, dental appointments and even putting off starting a family, plus comfort eating because of stress and ditching gym memberships are just some of the ways the squeeze is affecting women’s health and wellbeing.

Almost two thirds (61%) of 700 UK women aged 25 to 50 polled by the health platform Healthily admitted the financial squeeze was affecting their physical and mental health, with more than 8 out of 10 (81%) reporting higher levels of stress.

Making health cutbacks

The survey found the squeeze is forcing women to make cutbacks to spending on health and wellbeing with

  • 17% delaying a medical treatment due to reduced pay or missed work opportunities 
  • 55% are delaying dental care and 21% are making medications last longer 
  • 58% of women switching to cheaper own brand medications 
  • 55% swapping supermarkets to buy cheaper food
  • 51% cancelling gym memberships 

Less self-care for women

As well as cutbacks to spending on everyday basics, the cost of living crisis has seen many women economise on self-care and wellbeing spending.

  • 85% are cutting back on treats for themselves
  • 76% say they’re economising on beauty treatments and products
  • 43% are swapping longer holidays for shorter mini breaks and a third (32%) have cancelled their holiday entirely
  • 39% are reducing spend on vitamins and supplements

Women’s health worries include:

  • 80% lying awake at night fretting about food costs – 78% worried about rising fuel bills
  • 40% skipping meals to cut costs
  • 43% comfort eating due to stress
  • 14% said they were also drinking more alcohol
  • 11% said they were delaying starting a family because of the financial strain
  • 9% had gone to a food bank

Chief medical officer at Healthily, Professor Maureen Baker, says the survey reveals just how much the cost of living crisis is affecting not just spending habits but health in the UK.

“The women we spoke to are delaying dental treatment, cutting back on critical illness insurance and putting off starting a family – this shows how deeply the cost of living crisis is affecting women’s health,” says Professor Baker. 

“Our survey revealed 8 out of 10 women said the cost of living crisis is affecting their physical and mental health,” she adds. “Very high numbers said these worries about money were leading to higher stress levels, which is concerning because stress can cause mental health and sleep problems.

“With the UK’s NHS in crisis after COVID-19 and the economic strain we’re all under, it’s an especially worrying time for anyone concerned about their health or managing a long term illness,” says Professor Baker.

More than two thirds of women say they are lying awake worrying about the cost of living. “That lack of sleep can affect blood pressure and heart health as well, making it harder to manage a healthy lifestyle and keep weight under control,” says Professor Baker.

“Our survey shows that 40% have skipped meals to save money and it’s clear that skipping meals will have a very direct effect on your health 

including potential malnutrition and simply not having enough energy to look after yourself and your family.

“On top of this with 39% cutting back spending on vitamins and supplements there’s a danger of women missing out on essentials such as vitamin D or iron especially as it’s often cheaper to go direct to your pharmacist, than buy on prescription,” she concludes. 

Healthily is a medically validated self-care health platform which includes a smart symptom checker and also offers free and practical recommendations to help people make decisions about their health and find solutions to support them.

If you found Cost of living crisis  is hitting British  women’s health hard interesting, you’ll find more expert women’s health tips on our Health channel.

Last modified: July 14, 2022

Written by 3:58 pm Women's Health, Health

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