Fewer Americans are following healthy lifestyle advice than in the past despite more evidence pointing to the fact that lifestyle directly impacts health outcomes. Researchers compared data from two large scale National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES)studies from 1988-1994 and from 2001-2006.
They looked at adults aged 40 to 74 years, because this is the age group where a first diagnosis of cardiovascular risk factors and disease usually arises. For the first period (1988 to 1994) the number in this age group was 7,340 (representing nearly 80 million people). The number for the second period (2001-2006) was 7,811 (representing about 65.5 million people).
The results showed that for this age group, during the 18 years between the two survey periods:
* The proportion of people with a BMI higher than 30 went up from 28 to 36 per cent.
* People doing exercise 12 times a month or more went down from 53 to 43 per cent.
* Smoking rates have not changed much (26.9 down to 26.1 per cent).
* People eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables a day went down from 42 to 26 per cent.
* People drinking moderate amounts of alcohol went up from 40 to 51 per cent.
* Overall, people adhering to all 5 healthy habits has gone down from 15 to 8 per cent of this population group.
* People with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or risk factors for these conditions, were no more likely to be following a healthy lifestyle than people without such factors.