Biggest ever study into Britain’s bowel habits reveals how long we spend on the toilet

The biggest ever study into Britain’s bowel habits has revealed how long we spend on the toilet, when we like to go and how often.

More than 140,000 people took part in The Big Poo Review — in a bid to ‘break the poo taboo’.

The study revealed that the average Brit poos at least once a day (going 1.66 times on average), while one in 400 Brits go less than once a week.

It also found people in Westminster spend the most time on the loo, sitting down for six minutes each time. This is two minutes longer than the average.

The survey was run by the ZOE Health Study, in partnership with Channel 4’s Steph’s Packed Lunch.

The biggest ever study into Britain’s bowel habits has revealed how long we spend on the toilet, when we like to go and how often

The biggest ever study into Britain's bowel habits has revealed how long we spend on the toilet, when we like to go and how often

Participants completed an online survey of around 20 questions, which quizzed them on how much they poo.

Breaking down the UK’s toilet habits, it found 13 per cent of people suffer so much with their bowel and gut health that it affects their day-to-day life.

And it found Britain is a nation of morning pooers, with almost thirds opting to go after breakfast (60.7 per cent) and a third just after waking up (32.9 per cent).

This is explained by the gastro-colic reflex — where your small intestine and colon process all the food you ate the day before as you sleep. By the time you wake up, your body’s ready to go.

Participants were also asked whether they experience any symptoms when they go to the loo.

When and how often do Brits poo?

When do Brits poo?

  • The majority of Brits poo after breakfast (60.7%)
  • A third of Brits poo just after waking up (32.9%)

How often do Brits poo?

  • The average person in the UK poos at least once a day (1.66 times)
  • One in 400 people poo less than once a week
  • One per cent of Brits poo more than four times a day

How long do Brits spend on the loo?

  • Brits spend an average of four minutes on the toilet when going for a poo
  • Westminster spends longest on the loo – six minutes
  • Almost 7% of Brits spend 2.5 days a year on the loo

The most common response was ‘incomplete evacuations’ — which more than a third of Brits (36 per cent) admitted to.

And outrageously, nearly one in ten people (9.2 per cent) said they use their fingers to help themselves poo. Experts do not advise manual techniques.

Another stark figure showed almost a quarter of women are constipated (23 per cent), compared to just 13 per cent of men.

The NHS defines constipation as a person pooing less than three times a week where the poo is often large, dry, hard or lumpy and straining or experiencing pain.

Professor Tim Spector, co-founder of ZOE, commented: ‘How often we go to the loo is one of the best ways to understand our gut health.

‘We know from ZOE’s blue poo research that transit time from plate to loo is a powerful predictor of gut health.’

He added that the survey has ‘engaged thousands of people in their bowel habits for the first time’ and will allow experts to tailor their advice to better help those who might be ‘struggling with their gut health in silence’.

Steph McGovern, presenter of Steph’s Packed Lunch, said: ‘It’s incredible to see the results of our survey and know that scientists around the world will actually be able to use all this data to change the way patients are looked after.

‘I love that viewers of Steph’s Packed Lunch have been brave enough to open up about their bowel habits and break the poo taboo!’

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