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Americans Don't Have Healthy Lifestyles


Updated May 19, 2014

A study performed in 2005 by an epidemiologist at Michigan State University found that most Americans don't do everything they can to lead healthy lifestyles.

The study published in journal Archives of Internal Medicine, looked at four basic characteristics that are part of a healthy lifestyle:

  • Being a non-smoker.
  • Exercising 30 minutes or more five days per week.
  • Eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Maintaining a healthy weight with a BMI under 25.

The lead researcher was surprised with his findings: of 153,000 adults, only three percent followed all four steps for a healthy lifestyle.

"I was really quite surprised at how low that number was," said Mathew Reeves, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Michigan State University.

"These results illustrate the extraordinarily low prevalence of healthy lifestyles in the United States adult population."

Here is the individual breakdown for the four healthy lifestyle characteristics:

  • 75 percent didn't smoke.
  • 23 percent ate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
  • 22 percent exercised regularly.
  • 40 percent maintained a healthy weight.

First the bad news. An unhealthy lifestyle means more illness and more expense to treat those illnesses. This means a bigger burden on an already challenged healthcare system. Poor health also means more time lost at work, less quality recreational time, and even shorter lifespans.

The good news is that all of these lifestyle changes are reversible and not at a great cost. Remember that changing your unhealthy lifestyle to a healthy one will lower your risk for cardiovascular disorders, diabetes, cancer, and other diseases.


Reeves MJ, Rafferty AP. "Healthy lifestyle characteristics among adults in the United States, 2000." Arch Intern Med. 2005 Apr 25;165(8):854-7.

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