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Just 2.7 percent of adults in the United States perform four basic behavioral characteristics of a healthy lifestyle that would protect against heart disease, a study by researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) and the University of Mississippi concluded.
A press release from OSU explained that scientists “examined how many adults succeed in four general barometers that could help define healthy behavior: a good diet, moderate exercise, a recommended body fat percentage and being a non-smoker. It’s the basic health advice, in other words, that doctors often give to millions of patients all over the world.
“Such characteristics are associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as many other health problems, such as cancer and type 2 diabetes.”
Especially concerning is that the scientists kept the bar for success low.
“The behavior standards we were measuring for were pretty reasonable, not super high,” said Ellen Smit, senior author on the study and an associate professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences. “We weren’t looking for marathon runners.”
According to the study, which had a sample size of 4,745 people, 16 percent had three characteristics, 36.8 percent had two, 33.5 percent had one, and 11.1 percent had zero.
Ms. Smit said the findings were not encouraging from a public health perspective.
“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.”