Despite the billions of dollars spent on gym memberships, diet programs, and low-fat food options, American't don't seem to be getting any healthier. In fact, a recent paper published by the Mayo Clinic (Loprinzi et al. 2016) reports that fewer than 3% of American adults are living a healthy lifestyle.
The researchers in this study defined living a healthy lifestyle as meeting four parameters: being sufficiently active (150 mins of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity each week), eating a healthy diet (based on a 24-hour recall), being a nonsmoker (serum cotinine level) and having a recommended body-fat percentage (5%-20% for men, and 8%-30% for women). Researchers then examined the association between having different combinations of these characteristics and several biomarkers for cardiovascular disease. The results from the study came from a survey of 4,745 adults.
Although many people accomplished multiple lifestyle goals--16% had three healthy characteristics and 37% had two--fewer than 3% met all four. Moreover, 11.1% met none of the criteria. Overall, the survey revealed the following:
71.5% did not smoke.
37.9% consumed a healthy diet.
9.6% had a normal body-fat percentage.
46.5% were sufficiently active.
2.7% had all four characteristics.
11.1% had none of the characteristics.THE BOTTOM LINE
This study does an excellent job of providing four concrete steps anyone can take to achieve a healthier lifestyle: Become a nonsmoker, be sufficiently active, eat a healthy diet, and achieve a recommended body-fat percentage. Of course, as the research reveals, none of these steps are easy to take. However, even small improvements matter, and any effort toward these lifestyle goals--even if it's below the defined threshold--can have a life-changing, or even life-saving, impact.
How many of these lifestyle goals are you currently accomplishing? What changes can you make to increase that number?