Pretty Much Nobody In The U.S. Leads A Healthy Lifestyle

Only 2.7 percent of U.S. adults hit the four key metrics of living a healthy lifestyle — abstaining from smoking, eating well, exercising and maintaining a healthy body fat percentage — according to a disheartening new study.

The study’s lifestyle benchmarks for health weren’t particularly high. Being smoke-free, exercising moderately and eating USDA recommended foods don’t seem like particularly difficult marks to hit. So why do so many Americans fall short of living healthy lives?

“That is the million dollar question,” Ellen Smit, a senior author of the study and an associate professor at the Oregon State University College of Public Health and Human Sciences, told The Huffington Post.

“We did not look at why few Americans have healthy lifestyles in this study, but I can speculate that it may be a mix of factors,” Smit said, citing lack of time to exercise, needing a car to commute, not having time to cook, the marketing of unhealthy food, and the lack of access to healthy foods and safe places to exercise in some communities as possible contributing factors.

The study included 4,745 people from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, and the researchers chose the metrics they did because they’re considered important lifestyle markers for chronic disease prevention. Of the four metrics, being physically active or having a normal body fat percentage were most strongly correlated with biomarker of good health, such as healthy levels of total and good (HDL) cholesterol.

Among the study participants, 72 percent of adults were non-smokers, 38 percent ate a healthy diet, 47 percent were moderately active and 10 percent had a normal body fat percentage.

“The low percent of adults with normal body fat may be a big contributor to not hitting all four metrics,” Smit said. Although the vast majority of Americans fell short —> Read More