AMA journal concludes few Americans follow healthy lifestyle

April 26, 2005

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AMA journal concludes few Americans follow healthy lifestyle


Exercise enhancement and risk precautions

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AMA journal concludes very few Americans follow healthy lifestyle
A study published in the April 25 2005 issue of the American Medical Association journal Archives of Internal Medicine ( found that only 3 percent of a large sampling of U.S. adults practice what is commonly considered a healthy lifestyle.

Matthew J Reeves, PhD of Michigan State University in East Lansing, and Ann P. Rafferty, PhD, of the Michigan Department of Community Health in Lansing utilized data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, a yearly random household telephone survey of American adults. Participants were queried on smoking status, weight, fruit and vegetable consumption and leisure time physical activity. Drs Reeves and Rafferty examined 153,805 responses for men and women between the ages of 18 and 74 for the year 2000.

The duo found that although three-quarters of the population surveyed were nonsmokers, the majority of subjects did not possess the remaining three healthy lifestyle characteristics. Forty percent of the participants reported having a healthy weight, which reflects the current estimate of 60 percent of the U.S. population being overweight or obese. Only 23.3 percent reported consuming the recommended five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and just 22.2 percent reported participating in at least 30 minutes of physical activity five times per week or more.

While 9.4 percent of the subjects had none of the four predetermined healthy lifestyle characteristics, 39.6 percent reported only one, 34.2 had two, 13.8 percent had 3, and just 3 percent of the population reported having all four.

The authors believe that “these findings serve to illustrate the health promotion crisis in the United States, characterized by excessive caloric intake, inadequate leisure time physical activity, increasing obesity, and high rates of cigarette use. These data, along with those that illustrate the benefits of following a healthy lifestyle, support the need for comprehensive primary prevention activities to increase healthy lifestyles and to reduce the prevalence of chronic disease risk factors at the population level.”


Exercise enhancement and risk precautions
To achieve the national health objective for increasing leisure-time physical activity, comprehensive public health efforts are needed to improve reported levels of leisure-time physical inactivity for all population groups for all months of the year. Examples of strategies and approaches to increase leisure-time physical activity include encouragement to climb stairs and to avoid the use of labor-saving devices (Blamey et al. 1995).

Physical inactivity increases the risk of many chronic disorders such as diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease, and many types of cancers. Studies have proven that maintaining moderate levels of physical activity (e.g., brisk walking 3 hours a week) greatly reduces the incidence of developing many chronic health conditions (Chakravarthy et al. 2002). Despite these findings, approximately one-third of adults in the United States report no leisure-time physical activity, and the prevalence of leisure-time physical inactivity is highest among those who are older (MMWR 2002).

Natural supplements have been shown to decrease the systemic inflammation that is found in many disease states and that may accompany sustained physical activity. Vitamin K helps reduce levels of IL-6, a pro-inflammatory messenger. Vitamin K also helps in the treatment of osteoporosis by regulating calcium and promoting bone calcification, a factor that is also important for athletes. The docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a fraction of fish oil is the best documented supplement to suppress TNF-alpha, IL-6, IL-1(b), and LTB(4). Studies on healthy humans and those with rheumatoid disease show that fish oil suppresses these dangerous cytokines by up to 90% (Khalfoun et al. 1997; Weber 1997). Chronic inflammation can also be mediated via diet modification.

Many of the supplements on the market reported to increase performance do improve overall health, but have not been substantiated to improve athletic scores. For example, although alpha-lipoic acid, L-carnitine, and coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) have been pushed as performance enhancers by some companies, none of them has any convincing research to show any effects on performance. The importance of CoQ10, alpha-lipoic acid, and carnitine, however, lies in their ability to prevent age-related mitochondrial exhaustion. Intense exercise generates lots of free radicals that are especially damaging to the mitochondria. This means that athletes and active people should supplement with at least 100 mg a day of CoQ10, 1000 mg a day of L-carnitine or acetyl-L-carnitine, and 250 mg a day of alpha-lipoic acid.

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For longer life,

Dayna Dye
Editor, Life Extension Update
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