Alvin H. Danenberg, DDS April 1, 2016
Investigators attempted to estimate the prevalence of a healthy lifestyle among US adults and to examine the link between a healthy lifestyle and various chronic diseases. Their report was published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
A healthy lifestyle was defined to include four specific characteristics:
- Regular physical activity
- Ideal body fat percentage
- Smoking avoidance
- Healthy eating
The researchers looked at data from the 4,745 participants in the 2003-2006 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. After evaluating all the data and the parameters, the results suggested that only 2.7% of the adult population demonstrated all four qualities of a healthy lifestyle. That’s a tiny number considering that incorporation of a healthy lifestyle has repeatedly been proven to increase both the health as well as the quality of life for everyone. HERE.
There are limitations to this study. The most significant weakness was that some of the qualities of a healthy lifestyle were determined from the comments of the 4,745 participants. For results about a healthy diet, responders recalled what they ate in the previous 24-hour period. Also, the healthy diet was not a Paleo-type diet. The dietary interviewers used the Healthy Eating Index (HEI) score for each study participant. The HEI-2005 was developed by the US Department of Agriculture as an indicator of dietary quality.
The HEI has 12 components (total fruit; whole fruit; total vegetable; dark green, orange vegetables and legumes; total grain; whole grain; milk; meat and beans; oil; saturated fats; sodium; and calories from solid fats, alcoholic beverages, and added sugars), with each component individually scored and a maximum total score of 100. A higher score would reflect closer adherence to the dietary guidelines based on the USDA’s MyPyramid, which was replaced in 2011 with MyPlate.
The facts reported in this Mayo Clinic publication are striking to me. The bottom-line as I see it is that so few Americans are heeding the facts that could be saving their lives leading into their golden years. I often ask my patients, “If you knew a train were coming at you, would you get off the tracks?” Although the answer seems so obvious to people like you and me, the answer sadly evades so many others.