by Alicia Simpson

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Scots clueless about what’s happening inside their bodies


  • New study The logo of health and care provider Bupa. Holyrood PR in Edinburgh handles public relations for 30 Bupa care homes in Scotlandreveals many Scots are clueless about the role of their vital organs and the best foods needed to fuel their bodies
  • Nearly three-fifths (58%) don’t know the basic functions of their kidneys and exactly half (50%) don’t know the basic functions of their lungs
  • Worryingly, over 1 in 4 (26%) don’t know that milk and dairy products are good sources of calcium

 17th February 2016 – Scots urgently need to brush up on their biology as a new study released today highlights the worrying number of people who confess to not having a basic understanding about how some of their most vital organs work, or the best food and drink we should be feeding our bodies.

Commissioned by Bupa UK, which has launched a new range of health assessments designed to help people engage with their health, the study revealed that nearly three-fifths (58%) of Scots don’t know the main functions of their kidneys; over three-quarters (79%) don’t know the main functions of their liver; whilst exactly half (50%) don’t know the main functions of their lungs, not realising that they help rid the body of carbon-dioxide.

This worryingly low body IQ extends to not understanding the best types of food needed to fuel our bodies. Over a quarter (26%) of respondents don’t know that milk and dairy products are good sources of calcium, and over two-fifths of nation (43%) confess to being clueless about which food groups provide the best nutrients for their vital organs.

When it comes to knowing how different organs impact and affect our health, the study of 2,000 respondents highlighted some factors that might explain this current lack of body intelligence in Scotland. Even when people are looking for help or advice with a personal health issue or concern, just over 3 in 10 Scots (34%) will typically turn to a doctor in the first instance and over a quarter of the nation (27%) will first turn to their partner. This dependence on advice from friends and family could be due to the fact that an alarming 45% of people struggle to understand medical language and terminology.

The study was commissioned by Bupa UK to highlight its new health assessments that are designed to help people engage with and improve their health. Bupa UK’s range of health assessments help give people a detailed picture of where their health is at currently, with guidance on how to move it in the right direction for the future.

Commenting on the research findings, Dr. Lizzie Tuckey, Medical Director, Bupa UK said: “The beginning of the year is typically when people focus on improving their personal health. But these results show that before attempting to improve our wellbeing, we first need to improve our basic understanding about how our body works and the food we need to fuel it. 

 “Our busy working lives and not getting enough expert health advice from the correct sources is clearly contributing to this low ‘Body IQ’.

 “A basic handle of biology is crucial, but equally important is an understanding of our own bodies and what we each need to do to look after ourselves properly. Having advice and treatment that is tailored specifically to us helps address this. Our range of new health assessments provide the expertise people need to assess their own bodies and make healthy lifestyle changes. An individual, tailored approach is key to helping people achieve healthier, happier lifestyles.”

As part of the new health assessments Bupa UK’s trained team gives personalised, practical lifestyle advice to help prevent future health issues and this includes ongoing support. These new health assessments are the latest new product developed to help address changing healthcare needs and demands of people across the UK.

 Scots are clearly trying to make efforts to improve their knowledge but they often find it’s hard to get the right guidance. Exactly half (50%) confessed they avoid celebrity health regimes because they’re too difficult to follow and over one-quarter (29%) of Scots admitted that, despite their popularity, they typically struggle to understand how personal health apps and digital fitness monitors work.

 The good news is that people do want to change. 89% of the study’s respondents admit that they could brush up on their anatomy knowledge and 60% would commit to a health and wellbeing regime if it were tailored for them.

Other notable findings from the research were:

  • Nearly two-fifths (39%) of respondents said they use websites and blogs when looking for tips and advice on improving their health and wellbeing
  • Over two-thirds (69%) of people don’t know the main functions of their pancreas

For further information on Bupa health assessments please visit:

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The profile and biography of public relations professional Alicia Simpson, a junior account executive with award-winning Scottish public relations agency, Holyrood PR in Edinburgh.

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