Healthy lifestyles on the decline in US

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Washington, May 27 (ANI): A new study conducted in the U.S. has found that only a small proportion of adults follow healthy lifestyle pattern, and in fact, the numbers are declining.

Researchers from the Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston compared the results of two large-scale studies of the US population in 1988-1994 and in 2001-2006.

In the intervening 18 years, the percentage of adults aged 40-74 years with a body mass index greater than 30 has increased from 28 percent to 36 percent; physical activity 12 times a month or more has decreased from 53 percent to 43 percent; smoking rates have not changed; eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables a day has decreased from 42 percent to 26 percent; and moderate alcohol use has increased from 40 percent to 51 percent. The number of people adhering to all 5 healthy habits has decreased from 15 percent to 8 percent.

Since people with diagnosed health conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, or high cholesterol were part of the samples, the researchers sought to determine whether such individuals were adhering to the healthy habits to a greater or lesser degree than people without those conditions, and whether adherence had changed over time.

The study also concluded that people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol, or risk factors for those conditions, were no more likely to adhere to a healthy lifestyle pattern than people without such risk factors.

"The potential public health benefits from promoting a healthier lifestyle at all ages, and especially ages 40-74 years, are substantial. Regular physical activity and a prudent diet can reduce the risk of premature death and disability from a variety of conditions including coronary heart disease, and are strongly related to the incidence of obesity," Dana E. King, MD, MS, said.

The study is published in the June 2009 issue of The American Journal of Medicine. (ANI)

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