Only eight out of 100 people in the US are lured by the well-known benefits of a healthy lifestyle that includes physical activity, a diet high in fruits and vegetables, moderate alcohol and not smoking.
The number of people actually adhering to all five healthy habits has decreased from 15 per ent to a measly eight per ent. Lifestyle choices are associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease as well as diabetes.
Investigators from the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSO), Charleston, compared the results of two large-scale studies of US population in 1988-1994 and in 2001-2006.
In the intervening 18 years, the percentage of adults aged 40-74 years with a body mass index greater than 30 has increased from 28 per ent to 36 per ent; physical activity 12 times a month or more has decreased from 53 per ent to 43 per ent.
Smoking rates have not changed (26.9 per ent to 26.1 per ent); eating five or more fruits and vegetables a day has decreased from 42 per ent to 26 per ent; and moderate alcohol use has increased from 40 per ent to 51 per ent.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) is a national survey of non-institutionalised persons in US conducted regularly by the National Centre for Health Statistics.
The researchers used data from a sub-sample of the NHANES surveys of 1988-1994 and 2001-2006, adults aged 40-74 years, because this age span is the primary time for initial diagnosis of cardiovascular risk factors and disease, said a MUSO release.
The study also concluded that people with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, high BP or high cholesterol, or risk factors for those conditions, were no more likely to adhere to a healthy lifestyle pattern than people without such risk factors.
These findings are slated for publication in the June issue of The American Journal of Medicine.