We have written extensively over the years as to the alarming rates of sedentarism in the United States. As a nation, we are perhaps, the most inactive nation in the world and that has health repercussions that go way beyond the debates on health care.

 

How bad is it? A recent study out of Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi looked into four basic health factors to see how average Americans performed – healthy diets, moderate exercise, non-smokers and normal body fat compositions. How did we fare? Miserably. Only 2.7% of American adults achieved this low bar health measurement in all four factors.

 

These four health characteristics are important because they represent lower rates of cancers, heart disease and type II diabetes, and stroke, when adherence levels are high.

 

The study was gleaned from an introspection of 4,745 adults involved in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, combining self reported information and measured levels as well.

 

The study found some interesting results when analyzing particular mixes of these four factors:

-       Those with normal body fat percentages were more apt to have health levels of HDL and total cholesterol.

-       71% did not smoke, 10% had normal BMI’s, 46% achieved moderate exercise levels (which unfortunately do not take into consideration inactivity levels), and 38% ate a healthy diet.

-       Women were more likely to not smoke and eat a healthy diet but less likely to be active.

-       Adults 60 years or older illustrated fewer healthy characteristics than those in the 20-39 age group, yet consumed a healthier diet while being less physically active.

-       Mexican Americans were the most likely to consume a healthier diet than any other ethnic group studied.

 

While there are glimmers of hope in the above reportings, it is shocking that a mere 2.7% of the adult population, on average, adheres to these four basic health tenets. Especially alarming when one considers that the levels defining moderate exercise are set so low to begin with.

 

America’s descent into unhealthy behavior can be tracked from our emergence as an agrarian society to that of an industrial nation, however the increase in health related issues has shown a much more precipitous increase in the past twenty years due to a decrease in physical activity caused by the technological revolution.

 

 

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