A study by researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi found that less than 3 percent of Americans successfully live all four behavioral characteristics of a "healthy lifestyle."
According to a March 21 OSU press release, only 2.7 percent of adult Americans were successful in having "a good diet, moderate exercise, a recommended body fat percentage and being a non-smoker."
These characteristics are normally linked to a lower chance of heart disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes and other health issues.
“The behavior standards we were measuring for were pretty reasonable, not super high,” Ellen Smit, senior study author and associate professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, said in the release.
“We weren’t looking for marathon runners,” Smit added.
“This is pretty low, to have so few people maintaining what we would consider a healthy lifestyle. This is sort of mind boggling. There’s clearly a lot of room for improvement.”
The study results were based 4,745 people from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey during 2003 to 2006, notes RT. The data included behaviors that were scientifically measured, not just self-reported by participants.
People in the study wore an accelerometer to track their level of movement. The research was looking for 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity each week. Additionally, people gave blood samples that checked to see if they were smokers. Participants had their body weight measured by a X-ray absorptiometry.
A healthy diet was considered ranking in the top 40 percent of the U.S. population who eat USDA-recommended foods.
While many people accomplished more than one of these lifestyle characteristics, few succeeded in all four.
The study found that 71 percent didn't smoke, 38 percent had a healthy diet, 10 percent had a body fat percentage that was normal and 46 were active enough.
While only 2.7 percent nailed all four characteristics, 16 percent scored three, 37 were at two, 34 percent mastered one and 11 percent completely struck out.