Posted on Nov 20, 2023, 5 p.m.
According to the CDC Americans have a shorter life expectancy compared to almost every other high-income nation, despite the millions that are spent on healthcare. Americans can expect to live on average 76.4 years, putting them behind the OECD average life expectancy of 81 years.
“The numbers are shocking,” said Chan School of Public Health—Dean Michelle Williams. She noted that younger people in America are dying at higher rates than their counterparts in other high-income countries and that the U.S. also has among the highest maternal and infant mortality rates among upper-income countries.
Research from Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health analyzed 34 years of data from 78,865 women and 27 years of data from over 44,354 men to reveal correlations between healthy behaviors and cardiovascular disease: those who maintained the healthiest lifestyles were 82% less likely to die from CVD, and 65% less likely to die from cancer.
Findings revealed that men who maintained all 5 healthy habits gained on average 12 years and women gained 14 years, and those who followed all 5 habits were 74% less likely to die. Dose-response relationships were found between each behavior and reduced risk of death, but the combination of all 5 was linked to the most additional years added to life.
According to the study maintaining these 5 habits is suggested to add up to extending life by up to 10+ years:
1) Although not always easy, maintaining a healthy diet can help to extend healthy longevity. Here’s some food for thought: poor diets have been found to lead to 1 in 5 deaths, and problems like high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.
2) Sedentary lifestyles are extremely bad for you; luckily even small amounts of daily exercise have been shown to extend life expectancy by as much as 4.5 years. According to NCI “Physical activity has been shown to help maintain a healthy body weight, maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints, promote psychological well-being and reduce the risk of certain diseases, including some cancers.”
3) Many people struggle with weight, but maintaining a healthy weight is very important to healthy aging, according to the study “weight control significantly reduced the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular risk factors and breast cancer.” Healthy weight varies from person to person, but a healthy BMI is said to be between 18.5-24.9.
4) One in 8 Americans struggle with alcohol addiction, there are many downsides to alcohol such as it adding to your waistline and increasing the risk of several forms of cancer such as colon, esophagus, and breast cancers.
5) Risks of tobacco use have become alarmingly apparent, as a result, there has been more effort to warn people of the dangerous side effects. Kicking the habit may be hard due to the addictive nature of nicotine, but it is worth the effort and benefit of being smoke-free.
Frank Hu, chair of the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School and senior author of the study explains, “This study underscores the importance of following healthy lifestyle habits for improving longevity in the U.S. population. However, adherence to healthy lifestyle habits is very low. Therefore, public policies should put more emphasis on creating healthy food, built, and social environments to support and promote healthy diet and lifestyles.”
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As with anything you read on the internet, this article should not be construed as medical advice; please talk to your doctor or primary care provider before changing your wellness routine. This article is not intended to provide a medical diagnosis, recommendation, treatment, or endorsement.
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