A fresh study has revealed that only 2.7 percent of the US adult population meet the standard for what constitutes a “healthy lifestyle.”
The research, conducted jointly by Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi, assessed adults according to four general barometers that could help define healthy behavior: a good diet, moderate exercise, recommended body fat percentage and being a non-smoker.
The results uncovered that a total of 71 percent of adults did not smoke, 38 percent ate a healthy diet, 10 percent had a normal body fat percentage, and 46 percent were sufficiently active, yet only 2.7 percent of all adults had all four healthy lifestyle characteristics. Sixteen percent had three, 37 percent had two, 34 percent had one, and 11 percent had none.
Additionally, women were found more likely to not smoke and eat a healthy diet, but less likely to be sufficiently active; and adults 60 years and older had fewer healthy characteristics than adults ages 20-39, yet were more likely to not smoke and consume a healthy diet, and less likely to be sufficiently active.
While experts say that more research is needed to identify ways to increase the adoption of multiple healthy lifestyle characteristics among adults, Ellen Smit, senior author on the study and an associate professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said these the findings of the research were not encouraging from the perspective of public health.
"This is pretty low, to have so few people maintaining what we would consider a healthy lifestyle," she said. "This is sort of mind boggling. There's clearly a lot of room for improvement."
The results were based on a large study group -- 4,745 people from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey and included several measured behaviors, rather than just relying on self-reported information.