Is technology actually good for us? The question of whether technology is going to make us healthier or more sick was recently explored by the global intelligence unit of McCann Erickson. The agency released results from their study called “The Truth About Wellness” which questioned over 7,000 people from several different countries around the world about their opinion on technology’s effects.

Whilst a little over half of the respondents believe that technology is indeed making us healthier, a surprising 46% think that it is not helping us at all and only making us more sick. This represents mixed sentiments about the impact technology has on wellness, with some believing that the technological advances are only promoting unhealthy lifestyles which lead to obesity.

Studies have shown that modern technologies, especially those with screens and monitors, have contributed to the obesity explosion. Even not-so-new technologies, i.e. those that have been around for half a century, have made us fatter. Studies often talk about the link between watching TV and expanding waistlines.

McCann’s Global Chief Strategy Officer, Daryl Lee, said:

“There is an exciting technological revolution in the wellness arena today which is empowering consumers, and transforming our health. However, with obesity seen as the number one threat to future health, there are also concerns that technology is encouraging bad behaviors.”

He added:

“The good news is that 94% of consumers say brands have a role in supporting their wellness needs. There has never been a better time for brands to lead positive change.”

The nature of current, modern wellness was studied from China to Brazil – the results show that it is full of contradictions that can be resolved by brands.

An overwhelming number of people believe that social networking sites such as Facebook are making them fat. Around 25% of young men and 17% of women of the same age worry that their obsession with technology and using online networking sites is making them live much more sedentary lifestyles that could lead to obesity. In total 20% of the people (from all ages groups and genders) believe technology is making them fat.

Additionally, a quarter of people believed that the modern obsession with health is only making us unhealthier. Cyberchondriacs – people who look for health information online – are the most likely to diagnose themselves with obesity-related illnesses and allergies, meaning there are more people making wrong diagnoses.

On the other hand, 40% of people feel more in control of their health because of technology. 21% of respondents feel that doctors are going to be obsolete in the near future as a result.

Most believe they will live until the age 79 but hope to live until they are 87, with the Chinese thinking they will live the longest while the Americans “want” to live the longest. The optimal age to achieve wellness was found to be 34 (although in Japan it’s 44 and in Turkey it’s 23).

Interestingly, in China there is growing concern related to aging – only 7% of the Chinese consumers questioned like the idea of aging compared to 26% of people globally. When asked whether they would like to remain the same age forever, 32% said yes.

The heart, liver and kidneys were the main organs that people thought necessary to maintain and keep healthy in the past, however with the rise of Alzheimers, the brain has also been added to this “A” list of organs. Close to half of the people do regular brain exercises to make sure that their cognitive abilities continue to work up to speed, in fact, if forced to, people in the U.S, U.K, Turkey and Brazil would put their mental health before physical health.

Written by Joseph Nordqvist