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MPs health impacted by junk food and dog bites

Elizabeth Bates | PoliticsHome

2 min read Partner content

Junk food, dog bites and stress are all taking their toll on the health of candidates as they hit the campaign trail, a new survey exclusively reveals.  

Polling done by Dods Polling for Nuffield Health sought to highlight the detrimental effects a period of intense electioneering can have on the wellbeing of parliamentary hopefuls.  

A survey of MPs (conducted just before they came mere Parliamentary candidates) found that whilst exercise increased during campaigning, eating habits took a hit and stress levels soared.

The research showed that two-thirds (66 per cent) of politicians don’t get time to eat properly when canvassing, with half admitting that they eat ‘what they can grab on the go’ and a quarter skipping meals daily.

During an election campaign, one in four (26%) of respondents confessed to eating more junk food every day, whilst one in five acknowledged that they eat more takeaways.

In addition, nearly nine out of ten (88%) parliamentarians said they didn’t have time to have a ‘sit down meal’ while 78% recognised that they did not eat a balanced diet.

One of the most surprising discoveries was that one in four MPs admitted to having been chased or bitten by a dog during an election campaign. 

The impact of the period on emotional wellbeing is significant, with two-thirds (67%) of MPs saying that the stress has a negative effect on their health.

On a more positive note, with the likes of David Cameron and Nick Clegg making a conscious effort to get fitter for the upcoming General Election, other politicians followed suit, with almost a quarter (23%) deciding to get fit for an election.

The biggest health bonus of canvassing during an election is the increase in exercise/walking.

More than three quarters (83%) of MPs polled agreed they exercised more, whilst 61% reported being active for at least an extra hour a day.

Dr Davina Deniszczyc, Nuffield Health’s Medical Director, Wellbeing said:

"The election bubble that our MPs and prospective candidates will be living within over the coming weeks is a harmful mix of high stress levels, poor nutrition and sleep deprivation. Although candidates are likely to be doing a lot more exercise, they must supplement this with a good diet and try and get a decent night’s sleep as often as possible.

We know that some senior politicians have taken steps to get fit and healthy for the election campaign, and this should prove to be hugely beneficial during what will be an extremely demanding month.”

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