JUN 01, 2020 11:10 PM PDT

Most Americans Do Not Adhere to All Recommended Healthy Behaviors

WRITTEN BY: Lawrence Renna

Leading public health institutions, such as the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the American Lung Association, and the American Cancer Society, recommend five healthy evidence-based behaviors. They are:

  1. Moderate to vigorous exercise
  2. Eating a healthy diet
  3. Sustaining a healthy body mass index (BMI)
  4. Avoid smoking cigarettes
  5. Do not excessively consume alcohol

In a recent study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, investigators evaluated the adherence to these recommendations by assessing nationally representative surveys over a period of 12 years.

The study was conducted using 26,194 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. These were completed by adults between the ages of 27 and 79; a BMI was also measured for the survey’s participants. The study found that most Americans do not partake in all five recommended behaviors.

The results of the analysis showed that a range of 4.4% to 6.3% of participants engages in all five recommended behaviors. Further, 20.2% to 22.8% of those surveyed participated in at least four of the practices. The percentage of Americans surveyed who only partake in two or fewer of the five recommended behaviors ranged from 45.4% to 48.3%. Finally, the average number of behaviors that Americans participate in was only 2.6.

Eric M. Hecht, MD, Ph.D., associate professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine and author on the study says there is not an easy way for healthcare providers to encourage patients to increase their participation in healthy behaviors. Dr. Hecht also recommends that physicians focus not just on single behaviors such as smoking, but on the total number of healthy behaviors.

Further, Dr. Hecht says:

“The data may have relevance toward the current pandemic where underlying health has an impact regarding case fatality rates.” “Individuals vulnerable to COVID-19 include those with obesity, smokers, and illnesses tied to failure to perform healthy behaviors.”


Sources: Helalio.com, American Journal of Preventive Medicine

About the Author
Doctorate (PhD)
Hello! I am a scientist currently living in Southern California, although I am originally from the east coast. I received my B.S. in Chemistry from Northeastern University in 2012, and my Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. I also had a postdoctoral appointment at the University of California, Irvine. I have written 25+ peer-reviewed articles, several patents, and one book chapter. I am a reviewer for scientific manuscripts, and a freelance editor and writer. Outside of science, I enjoy spending time with my family, training Jiu-Jitsu, and baking sourdough bread. I am happy to be writing for LabRoots.
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