Doctors Practice Better Health Habits

LiveScience.com

Many doctors appear to be practicing what they preach.

As a group, U.S. doctors have better health habits than nurses and other working adults, according to the results of a new Gallup-Healthways poll.

Doctors in the survey were less likely to smoke, less likely to be obese, and more likely to say they exercised three or more days a week, compared with nurses as well as other employed adults as a whole.

Doctors also scored higher on an assessment of physical health compared to nurses and adults with other jobs. The score was based on a number of factors, including how often participants took sick days and experienced health problems that disrupted their daily activities.

The better health of physicians was in part explained by their education — more highly educated Americans in general have better health habits. Nevertheless, "physicians set a good example for their patients," the researchers said.

The poll surveyed more than 590,000 U.S. adults between January 2011 and August 2012, including 1,984 physicians and 7,166 nurses.

The obesity rate among physicians was 14 percent, compared with 25 percent among both nurses and other workers.

Fifty-eight percent of physicians said they exercised at least three days a week for 30 minutes, while 55 percent of nurses and 54 percent of other workers said the same.

Four percent of physicians said they smoked, compared with 15 percent of nurses and 20 percent of other workers.

However, physicians were more likely to have cancer: 6 percent of physicians said they had cancer, compared with 5 percent of nurses and 4 percent of other workers. This may reflect factors unique to doctors, such as a greater awareness of cancer warning signs, or higher screening rates, according to the researchers.

Pass it on: Doctors appear to have better health and health habits than other workers.

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