Only 2.7 percent of adults nationwide have all four basic healthy characteristics, a new study found.
The report, completed by researchers at Oregon State University and other universities, examined if adults were successful in four areas that fit typical advice for a “healthy lifestyle”– moderate exercise, a good diet, not smoking and having a recommended body fat percentage. Fulfilling those characteristics reflects a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes and other health problems, according to a news release from Oregon State.
The study looked at 4,745 people from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. Researchers used an accelerometer device to gauge movement with a target of 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each week. Blood samples confirmed if a person was a non-smoker and body fat was measured using x-ray technology. Diet was defined as being within the top 40 percent of people who consumed foods suggested by the United States Department of Agriculture.
Out of the study group, 2.7 percent had all four characteristics, researchers found. About 16 percent had three, 37 percent had two, 34 percent had one and 11 percent had none.
“The behavior standards we were measuring for were pretty reasonable,” Ellen Smit, study senior author and an associate professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said in a statement. “We weren’t looking for marathon runners. This is pretty low, to have so few people maintaining what we would consider a healthy lifestyle. This is sort of mind boggling.”
The four behavioral characteristics were also compared to markers of cardiovascular health, such as blood pressure and glucose levels. The study reported that those with at least three healthy characteristics also typically had better cardiovascular health compared to those with none.
Other findings from the study included:
- 71 percent of adults didn’t smoke
- 38 percent of adults ate a healthy diet
- 10 percent had a normal body fat percentage
- 46 percent were sufficiently active
Researchers from the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and the University of Mississippi contributed.