Only Three Percent of Americans Living Healthy
Study by epidemiologists from Michigan State University provides shocking detail on how lifestyle is affecting the country’s health.
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By Michael Long
May 2, 2005
Americans are concerned about the rising cost of healthcare. Changes to the Medicare Act will drastically increase the cost of federally covered medical expenses. At the same time, more than forty million Americans are living without medical insurance.
Small changes to the medical delivery system of the price of pharmaceuticals will not have the same impact on healthcare costs that changes to the way we live our lives would.
Analyzing data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BFSS), Drs. Matthew Reeves and Ann Rafferty of Michigan State University and the Michigan Department of Community health looked at the behavior of 153,000 Americans during 2000.
On the positive side, three quarters of the population did not smoke. But only 23 percent included at least five fruits and vegetables a day and only 22 percent exercised at least 30 minutes on most days. Finally, only 40 percent maintained a healthy weight. Taken all together, only three percent of the population reported all four of the healthy lifestyle characteristics (HLC’s).
The authors note that not even any, “subgroup [of the population] followed this combination to a level remotely consistent with clinical or public health recommendations.”
In a statement, Reeves noted, “We are not proactive enough in challenging people to incorporate physical activity and other aspects of healthy lifestyles into their everyday lives. We need a societal change so that leading a healthy lifestyle is seen as a necessary expectation, and not something that is only followed by some tiny minority – everyone needs to understand what we are giving up by not doing this.”
Despite the recent announcement that obesity does not account for as many deaths as public health officials thought, the lack of healthy living in this country does not receive nearly enough coverage in the mainstream media. We need to be talking about this.
”Healthy Lifestyle Characteristics Among Adults in the United States, 2000,” Reeves, Rafferty. Archives of Internal Medicine. Vol. 165 (4/25/05)