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Americans Still Making Unhealthy Choices: CDC

High rates of obesity, heavy drinking, smoking and inactivity reported, but most people getting enough sleep
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WebMD News from HealthDay

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- The overall health of Americans isn't improving much, with about six in 10 people either overweight or obese and large numbers engaging in unhealthy behaviors like smoking, heavy drinking or not exercising, a new government report shows.

Released Tuesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the report found Americans continuing to make many of the lifestyle choices that have led to soaring rates of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses, including the following:

  • About six of 10 adults drink, including an increase in those who reported episodic heavy drinking of five or more drinks in one day during the previous year.
  • Twenty percent of adults smoke, and less than one-half of smokers attempted to quit in the past year.
  • Only one in five adults met federal guidelines for both aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening exercise. One in three was completely inactive when it came to any leisure-time aerobic activity.

The one bright spot in the report came in the area of sleep behavior. About seven in 10 adults meet the federal objective for sufficient sleep.

The findings have been gleaned from nearly 77,000 random interviews conducted between 2008 and 2010.

The numbers reflect persistent trends, said report author Charlotte Schoenborn, a health statistician at the CDC's National Center for Health Statistics.

"Changes have not been enormous," Schoenborn said. "It's been a very, very slow process of changing awareness of personal choices for healthier ways of life. All of the health-related federal agencies, and a lot of nonfederal groups, are putting a lot of resources to make people aware of the effect they can have on their own health. This report is just designed to say where we are."

The findings did not surprise Rich Hamburg, deputy director of Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit public health organization.

"I think we're in a situation now where we're at a crossroads," Hamburg said. "We have two paths to go. We're hopeful that if we continue to invest in community-based prevention, if we promote healthy eating and active living, these rates will begin to decrease."

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