WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
A newly published nationally representative study shows that only a mere 2.7% of American adults have all 4 healthy lifestyle characteristics, which include being sufficiently active, eating a healthy diet, being a nonsmoker and having a healthy body fat percentage. The fact that so many adults are lacking these characteristics is alarming, due to the relationship between healthy lifestyle characteristics and chronic disease risk factors.
In order to ensure that the results of this study were generalizable to the entire U.S. adult population, participants in the study were nationally representative, including a wide range of ages, both men and women, and represented all races and ethnicities of adults living in the United States. Participants in the study were 20 – 85 years of age, and a total of 4,745 individuals were included. Study participants were interviewed in their homes and physical measurements and dietary information was gathered at mobile examination centers.
Participants were classified as sufficiently active if they engaged in at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) weekly. Researchers gathered information on diet through conducting two 24-hour dietary recalls at the mobile examination centers, in addition to 24-hour dietary recalls every day of the week. Smokers and nonsmokers were determined by measuring serum cotinine, a biological measure of smoking status. Finally, body fat was determined through whole-body scans. In men and women of normal weight, a healthy body fat ranged from 5% to 20% body fat for men and as 8% to 30% body fat for women. Once each participant was assessed, they were given a score of 0 to 4 healthy lifestyle characteristics by summing the number of each area measured (physical activity, healthy diet, smoking status and body fat percentage).
The results showed that a total of 71.5% of adults did not smoke, 37.9% consumed a healthy diet, 9.6% had a normal body fat percentage, and 46.5% were sufficiently active. Of the nearly 5,000 individuals in the study, only 2.7% of all adults had all 4 healthy lifestyle characteristics, and 11.1% had none of the healthy lifestyle characteristics. Women were more likely to be nonsmokers and to eat a healthy diet, but less likely than men to be sufficiently active. Older adults were more likely to be nonsmokers and to eat a healthy diet, but less likely to be sufficiently active and have an ideal body fat percentage.
WHY THIS MATTERS
Those with higher healthy lifestyle characteristic scores (a score of 3-4) were much more likely to have favorable results for cardiovascular disease blood biomarker measures (e.g. blood cholesterol, triglycerides, etc.) However, even those with a score of 1-2 healthy lifestyle characteristics had more favorable cardiovascular biomarker results than individuals with no healthy lifestyle characteristics. Individuals who ate a healthy diet were less likely to develop heart and blood vessel disease than those who ate an unhealthy diet. Being physically active and having a healthy body fat had the greatest benefit than any of the other healthy lifestyle factors. All of the habits are connected in one way or another, as a healthy body fat strongly connected to a person’s eating and physical activity habits.
This study demonstrates the importance of an overall healthy lifestyle on the development of many chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In this day and age, many Americans are affected by “lifestyle diseases,” such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are influenced by our habits and lifestyle choices. In order to live life to the fullest and enjoy the many physical, emotional and mental benefits of a healthy lifestyle, we must consciously choose to take care of our bodies through regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet, abstaining from smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight.
3 Ways to Kick Start Your Own Journey to Optimal Health & Wellness
- Healthy Diet: First and foremost, fill half your plate with fruits and veggies for every meal and snack. Vegetables and fruits are packed with vitamins and minerals, nutrients, antioxidants and fiber. They’re also very low in calories. The combination of high nutritional density and low calories makes them very nutritious choice.
- Physical Activity: Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day for a total of 150 minutes of physical activity each week. Importance of Physical Activity
- Weight Management: Maintaining a healthy weight through diet and physical activity is a critical component of an overall healthy lifestyle. Fruits and vegetables are very nutritionally dense and contain few calories for the health benefits that they offer. If you’re looking to lose weight or maintain your current weight, be sure to incorporate fruits and vegetables into each meal and snack. Info on Weight Management
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