Most people lack completely healthy lifestyle: study

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Corvallis, OR – Most Americans prove inadequate in at least one important category regarding health and fitness, according to a study from Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi.

Only 2.7 percent of adults displayed all four basic behavioral characteristics that researchers used to determine a healthy lifestyle:

  • Regular physical activity (at least 150 minutes per week of “moderate to vigorous” exercise)
  • Normal body fat percentage (5 percent to 20 percent for men; 8 percent to 30 percent for women)
  • Healthy diet (based on Healthy Eating Index scores) 
  • Non-smoking

Besides the 2.7 percent of high achievers, researchers said 16 percent met three of the characteristics. Thirty-seven percent of those studied met two characteristics, 34 percent met one characteristic and 11 percent met none.

Individuals scored best in the non-smoking category – 71 percent abstained from smoking. Forty-six percent were sufficiently active, 38 percent achieved a healthy diet and 10 percent had a normal body fat percentage.

The study’s authors said the findings emphasize the need to research more effective strategies for adults to adopt multiple healthy lifestyle characteristics.

“This is pretty low, to have so few people maintaining what we would consider a healthy lifestyle,” Ellen Smit, senior author of the study and an associate professor in OSU’s College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said in a press release. “This is sort of mind-boggling. There’s clearly a lot of room for improvement.”

The study was published in the April edition of the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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