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HEALTHY LIFESTYLES ON THE DECLINE

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:05pm

By Marie Dufour, RD – Since the 1980s, we’ve seen an explosion of gyms, nutrition stores, miraculous diets, and a plethora of health magazines, yet only half as many American adults engage in healthy lifestyles as they did two decades ago.

Taking results from NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) 2001-2006, researchers considered five healthy behaviors in their patients ages 40 to 74 and compared them to the 1988-1994 data. The five healthy behaviors were: maintaining a healthy weight, eating fruits and vegetables, drinking alcohol in moderation, exercising, and not smoking .  Twenty years ago, 15% of patients engaged in all five healthy behaviors. Today, only 8% of them do. That’s just a little more than half.

Here is how it breaks down, compared to 1988:

- 36% of the patients are now obese (BMI 30 or greater): 8% more

- 43% are regular exercisers (at least 12 times a month): 10% fewer

- 26% eat five servings or more of fruits and vegetables daily: 16% fewer

- 51% drink alcohol in moderation (1 drink/day for women, 2/day for men): 11% more

- 26.5% are smokers: unchanged.

And, surprisingly, patients with hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease are no more likely to adopt healthy lifestyle than those without these conditions.

What’s going on? We drink more, exercise less, eat less fruit and vegetables, get thicker around the waist, and WE DON’T CARE if it makes us sick.

Are we not caring about our health any more? Are we just dreaming that technology and pills are going to get us magically well? Are we thinking that watching Dancing With the Stars on Blue Ray will count as our cardiovascular workout? Is Emeril or The Iron Chef migrating in our kitchens and making us forget about basic healthy nutrition? And are we simply hoping that the latest fat-burning pill or restrictive diet will keep us away from obesity? At the grocery store, did we substitute the stop at the produce department for a run through the nutritional supplement aisle?

Being healthy doesn’t come in a pill, nor can it be infused from the TV screen. A healthy lifestyle takes dedication and planning. How do you start? A walk around the block is a good debut. If that’s not feasible, an old Jane Fonda video will do!

Reference: King DE, et al “Adherence to healthy lifestyle habits in U.S. adults, 1988-2006″ Am J Med 2009; 122: 528-34.

Filed under: diet, alcohol, diet, healthy lifestyle, Marie Dufour RD, nutrition, obesity, public health

By Marie Dufour, RD – Since the 1980s, we’ve seen an explosion of gyms, nutrition stores, miraculous diets, and a plethora of health magazines, yet only half as many American adults engage in healthy lifestyles as they did two decades ago.

Taking results from NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) 2001-2006, researchers considered five healthy behaviors in their patients ages 40 to 74 and compared them to the 1988-1994 data. The five healthy behaviors were: maintaining a healthy weight, eating fruits and vegetables, drinking alcohol in moderation, exercising, and not smoking .  Twenty years ago, 15% of patients engaged in all five healthy behaviors. Today, only 8% of them do. That’s just a little more than half.

Here is how it breaks down, compared to 1988:

- 36% of the patients are now obese (BMI 30 or greater): 8% more

- 43% are regular exercisers (at least 12 times a month): 10% fewer

- 26% eat five servings or more of fruits and vegetables daily: 16% fewer

- 51% drink alcohol in moderation (1 drink/day for women, 2/day for men): 11% more

- 26.5% are smokers: unchanged.

And, surprisingly, patients with hypertension, diabetes, or cardiovascular disease are no more likely to adopt healthy lifestyle than those without these conditions.

What’s going on? We drink more, exercise less, eat less fruit and vegetables, get thicker around the waist, and WE DON’T CARE if it makes us sick.

Are we not caring about our health any more? Are we just dreaming that technology and pills are going to get us magically well? Are we thinking that watching Dancing With the Stars on Blue Ray will count as our cardiovascular workout? Is Emeril or The Iron Chef migrating in our kitchens and making us forget about basic healthy nutrition? And are we simply hoping that the latest fat-burning pill or restrictive diet will keep us away from obesity? At the grocery store, did we substitute the stop at the produce department for a run through the nutritional supplement aisle?

Being healthy doesn’t come in a pill, nor can it be infused from the TV screen. A healthy lifestyle takes dedication and planning. How do you start? A walk around the block is a good debut. If that’s not feasible, an old Jane Fonda video will do!

Reference: King DE, et al “Adherence to healthy lifestyle habits in U.S. adults, 1988-2006″ Am J Med 2009; 122: 528-34.

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