Are You Among the 3%?

A recent study shocked many with the news that under 3% of Americans are actually living a healthy lifestyle. Here’s what the researchers found, and what we can learn from it…

For many of us, health is like money – we don’t really like to spend a lot of time thinking about it…until we run out of it. But burying our heads in the sand will only get us so far. At some point, our chickens will come home to roost – and this recent study shows just how far out of touch we have become with our bodies, and the price we are now paying for our inattention.

A recent U.S. National Health and Nutrition Survey, published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings journal, assessed data from more than 4,700 participants, to examine how many people followed four general “principles of healthy living” — a healthy diet, moderate exercise, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight. These 4 behaviors are considered the four most important factors for reducing your risk of most modern diseases such as cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.

How did we do? Not good. Unless you’re one of the 2.7% of Americans who actually do follow the principles….

That’s right, less than 3% of adults achieved all 4 of the healthy lifestyle measures, which although shocking at first glance, isn’t really so surprising when we look at the state of our health in America these days.

On a brighter note, it wasn’t all bad news. Smoking rates have declined significantly in the past few decades, and obesity rates are not rising as quickly as they have in recent years.

However, this eye-opening study emphasizes the importance of educating ourselves about health, and learning to create more healthy habits in our daily lives.

Here are some of the findings from the study that we should be aware of:

Overall, 71 percent of the adults surveyed did not smoke, 38 percent ate a healthy diet, 10 percent had a normal body fat percentage and 46 percent got sufficient amounts of physical activity.

Sixteen percent had three of the healthy lifestyle behaviors, 37 percent had two, 34 percent had one and 11 percent had none.

Among the other findings: women were more likely than men to not smoke and to eat a healthy diet, but they were less likely to have adequate physical activity levels. And when it came to race, Mexican-Americans were more likely to eat a healthy diet than blacks or whites.

The study was conducted by researchers at Oregon State University, the University of Mississippi and the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga.

In terms of public health, the findings are disappointing, Smit said in an OSU news release.

“This is pretty low, to have so few people maintaining what we would consider a healthy lifestyle,” she said. “This is sort of mind boggling. There’s clearly a lot of room for improvement.”


Learn more about the study at