Unhealthy Lifestyles -- Americans Number 1

Unhealthy Lifestyles -- Americans Number 1

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AMA Journal Concludes Very Few Americans Follow Healthy Lifestyles
A study published in the April 25, 2005 issue of the American Medical Association journal Archives of Internal Medicine found that only 3 percent of a large sampling of U.S. adults practice what is commonly considered a healthy lifestyle.

Matthew J Reeves, PhD of Michigan State University in East Lansing, and Ann P. Rafferty, PhD, of the Michigan Department of Community Health in Lansing utilized data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a yearly random household telephone survey of American adults.  Participants were queried on smoking status, weight, fruit and vegetable consumption and leisure time physical activity.  Drs Reeves and Rafferty examined 153,805 responses for men and women between the ages of 18 and 74 for the year 2000.

The duo found that although three-quarters of the population surveyed were nonsmokers, the majority of subjects did not possess the remaining three healthy lifestyle characteristics.  Forty percent of the participants reported having a healthy weight, which reflects the current estimate of 60 percent of the U.S. population being overweight or obese.  Only 23.3 percent reported consuming the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day and just 22.2 percent reported participating in at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times per week or more.

While 9.4 percent of the subjects had none of the four predetermined healthy lifestyle characteristics, 39.6 percent reported only one, 34.2 had two, 13.8 percent had 3, and just 3 percent of the population reported having all four.

The authors believe that these findings serve to illustrate the health promotion crisis in the United States, characterized by excessive caloric intake, inadequate leisure time physical activity, increasing obesity, and high rates of cigarette use.  These data, along with those that illustrate the benefits of following a healthy lifestyle, support the need for comprehensive primary prevention activities to increase healthy lifestyles and to reduce the prevalence of chronic disease risk factors at the population level.

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