Researchers set standards for being "healthy" extremely low, Americans still fail miserably

Researchers set standards for being "healthy" extremely low, Americans still fail miserably

CultureMarch 22, 2016 By Dave Reuss

With Americans' busy lifestyles consisting of mostly driving, sitting, driving and then sitting again before falling asleep, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is tricky. In response, a group of researchers from the Mayo Clinic set out to see how bad it really is out there.

The report, completed by researchers at Oregon State University, examined if adults are 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.

Ultimately, it's a pretty damn low bar. Since you're 25 percent of the way there already by not doing something that's been proven to kill you, it can't be that hard to get a passing score. Probably.

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.

And guess how many people nailed it, hitting all four categories? No, guess lower. Way lower. 

A whopping 2.7 percent of people did it. 

Even the doctors conducting the study wouldn't tactfully hold their contempt for how fat and lazy people are.

"The behavior standards we were measuring for were pretty reasonable," a very sad Ellen Smit said, study senior author and an associate professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences. "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."

But if you frame the stats in a slightly different way, it looks a tiny bit better.

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

So ... that's encouraging, right?