Lack of confidence stems from increase in prevalence of chronic diseases; incentives and proactive approach are crucial in building a healthier Singapore
The Singapore report titled "Battling chronic disease in Singapore: Reducing risk and building awareness" is based on an analysis of 300 Singapore residents. It explores how Singapore residents' aspirations and their concepts of success may be changing amid longer life spans and ever-evolving challenges to health and wellbeing. Singapore also ranked the third lowest in confidence to live well according to a regional edition of the report, which surveyed 5,000 people across 13 Asian markets.
The lack of confidence in living well till old age stems from the high levels of chronic health conditions in the Singapore population, where 32 per cent have been diagnosed with hypertension (high blood pressure) and 37 per cent with hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol). Diabetes is also one of the most common chronic diseases that is of concern.
However, there is a silver lining as the survey found that Singapore residents are re-evaluating their priorities and placing more importance on physical fitness. When asked to rank what's most important to them today compared to 5 years ago, respondents ranked physical fitness as third most important today compared to eighth place five years ago.
Mr Dennis Tan, CEO of Prudential Singapore, said that it is vital to take a preventive and proactive approach to health and wellness.
"We are responsible for our own health and wellness especially as we live longer years. Singapore has an aging population, and the incidence rate of chronic diseases will also increase with age. If we start leading a healthy lifestyle as early as possible, we can lay a strong foundation to enjoy our life to the fullest and into our golden years. Staying healthy also means that we will reduce the need for medical treatment in the long run."
Incentives useful in promoting healthy behaviours
While Singapore residents placed greater emphasis on physical health, incentives are also useful in promoting healthy lifestyles and bringing down chronic disease levels. Respondents indicated that government incentives (51 per cent) and incentives offered by insurance providers (40 per cent) are key factors in motivating them to change their behaviour.
Among the 13 countries surveyed, Singapore residents appear to be the most receptive to incentives by the government, employers and others, to take a more proactive approach to improving their health. More than 6 in 10 (65 per cent) of respondents from Singapore agree that government policies and support are helpful in enabling them to improve their physical health, higher than the regional average (55 per cent).
The report also showed that Singapore residents are leveraging technology to help track their health. Over 75 per cent of respondents – higher than the 72 per cent regional average – reported using mobile apps to monitor and/or improve their physical health and fitness. Experts interviewed for the report shared that national programmes such as the National Steps Challenge have a part to play in encouraging this behaviour. As part of the Challenge, citizens use a wearable fitness tracker and mobile health app to record their physical activity levels and earn rewards for increasing their physical activity.
Taking a proactive approach to health screenings and health management
Early screenings, detection and treatment can result in better outcomes for chronic diseases. However, according to Dr Clive Tan, assistant professor, Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, National University of Singapore, many people are reluctant to get screened due to a fear of receiving bad news, and that "too often people think the onset of a disease is a death sentence."  Dr Tan was one of the experts interviewed for the report.
He also shared that most health screenings today are transactional. The purpose of screening is not only to inform people about the disease risks that they face, but to also help them make the behavioural changes needed to address their risk factors.
Dr Low Lip Ping, chairman emeritus of the Singapore Heart Foundation, noted as part of his contribution to the report that "Primary care physicians will need to become more proactive in their communities in explaining the implications of, for example, hypertension and high cholesterol, and precisely what patients need to do to manage those risks."
Supporting a healthier Singapore
Prudential offers a variety of initiatives to help customers and the community take better care of their health for long-term wellness. For example, the Chronic Care Management Programme (CCMP) was launched in 2022 to support Prudential's PRUPanel Connect customers with early detection and follow up care for chronic conditions. Singapore residents can also tap on the Pulse by Prudential (Pulse) app to check their symptoms, conduct assessments and speak with a doctor to understand their health better.
Through the company's title sponsorship of the Tour de France Prudential Singapore Criterium, it aims to inspire more Singapore residents to keep active and healthy through cycling, an accessible and sustainable sport that young and old can enjoy.
About the report
"Battling chronic disease in Singapore: Reducing risk and building awareness" is a report commissioned by Prudential and written by Economist Impact, which explores how Singapore residents' aspirations and their concepts of success may be changing amid longer life spans and ever-evolving challenges to health and wellbeing. The analysis is based on a survey of 300 residents in Singapore, conducted in September and October 2022. A panel of subject-matter experts was also interviewed for this study. For more information on the Singapore report, please refer to the report here.
The Singapore findings are part of a region-wide report "Re-thinking well-being in Asia: How outlooks on life are changing" which surveyed 5,000 people across 13 Asian markets. For more information on the region-wide report, please refer to this press release here.
The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.
About Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Ltd (Prudential Singapore)
Prudential Assurance Company Singapore (Pte) Ltd is one of the top life insurance companies in Singapore, serving the financial and protection needs of the country's citizens for 92 years. The company has an AA- Financial Strength Rating from leading credit rating agency Standard & Poor's, with S$49.4 billion funds under management as at 31 December 2022. It delivers a suite of well-rounded product offerings in Protection, Savings and Investment through multiple distribution channels including a network of more than 5,000 financial consultants.