Less Than 3% Of Americans Lead Healthy Lives — But Don't Panic Yet

Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
A new study from Oregon State University has found that a shockingly low number of Americans have what could be considered a "healthy" lifestyle — one author even described the findings as "mind-boggling," Shape reports.

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The researchers looked at data from 4,745 people who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, specifically looking at four basic recommendations for a healthy lifestyle: smoking, maintaining the recommended body fat percentage, moderate regular exercise, and a healthy diet. (Some of these were measured via questionnaire, while others were confirmed with tests, like X-ray absorptiometry for body fat and blood tests for smoking status. Researchers considered a "healthy diet" as being someone in about the top 40% of people who ate foods recommended by the USDA.)
Unfortunately, the researchers found that only about 3% of Americans surveyed follow all four habits. However, the numbers improve immensely when you consider how many people follow one of these requirements.

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Only 10% Americans maintained a healthy body fat percentage, but a whopping 71% were found to be non-smokers. Meanwhile, 46% exercised regularly and 38% ate healthfully. Beyond the lifestyle test, researchers also considered blood test results for biomarkers for good health, like cholesterol. They found that following even one or two of these habits could reduce your risk of poor heart health. "I would expect that the more healthy lifestyles you have, the better your cardiovascular biomarkers will look," one author stated in a press release.

When you get into the details, these numbers suggest that many more Americans are on the right track — it's just a matter of adopting one or two more habits.

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