Worker Health and Wellness

Survey on diet, fitness shows many Americans underestimating cancer risk


Photo: karandaev/iStockphoto

Washington – Despite what they believe, most Americans aren’t making the diet and fitness choices that can help protect them from cancer, according to the results of a survey conducted by the American Institute for Cancer Research.

The institute commissioned the “Living for Lower Cancer Risk in the U.S., 2016” survey of 1,106 adults to learn about Americans’ lifestyle behaviors and choices.

Maintaining a healthy weight could prevent nearly 122,000 cases of cancer annually in the United States, AICR estimates. The institute recommends Americans eat a plant-heavy diet, with meat and dairy products making up one-third or less of their plate. Survey results showed that while only 23 percent of respondents follow this recommendation, 70 percent believe their diet is healthy.

AICR also recommends individuals participate in a minimum of 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. Forty-two percent of respondents said they meet these requirements. This contrasts with statistics from the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition that show less than 5 percent of Americans get 30 minutes of daily exercise.

In addition, 50 percent of participants said they are overweight or obese, while 42 percent said they are at a healthy weight. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 69 percent of Americans are overweight or obese.

“That’s almost 7 in 10 Americans who are at higher risk for many of the most common cancers in the U.S.,” AICR Head of Nutrition Programs Alice Bender said in a press release. “So if, as this survey shows, Americans underestimate their weight, that means they’re underestimating their risk as well. And that’s a problem.”

Respondents said the main hurdle to eating healthier is cost, and the top obstacle to being more active is time.

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