06 April 2010

Vast majority of Americans claim to be leading a healthy lifestyle but the numbers don’t add up

A new survey conducted by the American Public Health Association (APHA) reveals that 85-percent of Americans characterize their lifestyle as “somewhat or very healthy.”

"The trend of Americans making healthier lifestyle changes, such as eating better and exercising more, shows that the U.S. population is taking the necessary steps to becoming a healthier nation," said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. "Americans need to 'start small, think big,' in transforming our nation into a healthier nation. Individuals recognize that their personal changes can result in broader community impact."

Some key points of the survey include:

•47 percent of Americans want to be an inspiration for healthy living for their children;
•51 percent of Americans have helped friends or family make healthy lifestyle changes in the past 6 months;
•Although 85 percent of Americans characterize their lifestyle as somewhat or very healthy, 20 percent perceive the lifestyle of the U.S. population as somewhat or very healthy; and
•While 64 percent of Americans have already made healthy changes to their lifestyle, an additional 21 percent are thinking about making healthy changes.

That really sounds like great news but unfortunately it appears that the majority—85-percent in this case—of Americans are bending the truth a bit.

Even though obesity rates in the U.S. have stabilized they are still at dangerously high levels. According to the CDC, 36-percent of women and 32-percent of men living in the U.S. are obese. Dig deeper and you find that the CDC reports that if you combine obesity rates with the prevalence of those who are overweight that number becomes a staggering 67-percent. In fact childhood obesity is so rampant that life expectancy for children could decrease by two to five years if we don’t make real lifestyle changes.

Consider behaviors that go beyond the dinner table. The American Heart Association estimates that 24.8 million men (23.1-percent) and 21.1 million women (18.3-percent) smoke.

A 2008 Gallup poll showed that only 32-percent of respondents engaged in vigorous exercise three or more times within a week. A number that did not budge from the same survey conducted in 2001. The results revealed that only 50-percent of Americans met the basic requirements for “getting enough exercise.” Considering, once again, that the Gallup poll was driven by a survey and not actual observation, one could ascertain that that those numbers are fudged a bit as well.

Regardless of how the results were tallied just do the math. No matter how you add it up apparently what Americans do and what Americans say they do are two very different things.

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