Impact of election campaign on MPs health revealed

In the run up to the election, new research out today from Nuffield Health highlights the impact that campaigning can have on MPs health.

The figures show that although parliamentarians are significantly increasing their exercise levels on the election trail, the benefits are outweighed by poor diets, a lack of sleep and high stress levels.   

Campaigning before an election has an impact on emotional wellbeing, with two-thirds (67%) of MPs identifying that stress negatively affects their health. One in three experience levels of stress every day that adversely influences their wellbeing.

The not for profit healthcare organisation has shown that two-thirds (66 per cent) of our 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%) MPs confess to eating more junk food every day, whilst one in five acknowledges that they eat more takeaways. In addition, nearly nine out of ten (88%) parliamentarians don’t have time to have a ‘sit down meal’ while 78 per cent recognise that they do not eat a balanced diet.

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 have 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. But a surprising downside of the extra activity is that one in four of all MPs polled admitted to having been chased or bitten by a dog while out campaigning.

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.”

Other findings include:
  • A quarter of MPs are active for an extra 3 hours a day when campaigning 
  • More than one in six (16 per cent) parliamentarians get less than five hours sleep each night while on the election campaign trail
  • Long working days also influence MP health with more than one in five (22%) working in excess of 15hr days during an election
  • A third of all MPs ‘eat when they can’ when canvassing every day
  • Nearly one in twenty MPs (4%) admits to having a daily ‘liquid lunch’ on the election trail
  • One in ten of parliamentarians would like to get fit for an election in the future

Last updated Wednesday 23 March 2016

First published on Wednesday 1 April 2015