Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Get off your lardbutts

Periodically, your government surveys a sample of Americans about their health-related habits, and also gives them a physical. Here's the latest from Dana E. King, MD, MS, Arch G. Mainous III, PhD, Mark Carnemolla, BS, Charles J. Everett, PhD, in the American Journal of Medicine. (Get on the faculty and you can read the whole thing.)

BACKGROUND: Lifestyle choices are associated with cardiovascular disease and mortality. The purpose of this study was to compare adherence to healthy lifestyle habits in adults between 1988 and 2006.
METHODS: Analysis of adherence to 5 healthy lifestyle trends (5 fruits and vegetables/day, regular exercise 12 times/month, maintaining healthy weight [body mass index 18.5-29.9 kg/m2], moderate alcohol consumption [up to 1 drink/day for women, 2/day for men] and not smoking) in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1988-1994 were compared with results from the National Health
and Nutrition Examination Survey 2001-2006 among adults aged 40-74 years.
RESULTS: Over the last 18 years, the percent of adults aged 40-74 years with a body mass index -- 30 kg/m2 -- has increased from 28% to 36% (P <.05); physical activity 12 times a month or more has decreased from 53% to 43% (P <.05); smoking rates have not changed (26.9% to 26.1%); eating 5 or more fruits and vegetables a day has decreased from 42% to 26% (P <.05), and moderate alcohol use has increased from
40% to 51% (P <.05). Adherence to all 5 healthy habits has gone from 15% to 8% (P <.05). Although adherence to a healthy lifestyle was lower among minorities, adherence decreased more among non- Hispanic Whites over the period. Individuals with a history of hypertension/diabetes/cardiovascular disease were no more likely to be adherent to a healthy lifestyle than people without these conditions.
CONCLUSIONS: Generally, adherence to a healthy lifestyle pattern has decreased during the last 18 years, with decreases documented in 3 of 5 healthy lifestyle habits. These findings have broad implications for the future risk of cardiovascular disease in adults.
© 2009 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. • The American Journal of Medicine (2009) 122, 528-534

Bottom line? We've gotten fatter and lazier and we eat more junk, and we're still sucking up the cancer sticks. Even if we've already gotten the bad news from our doctor that we're on the road to a heart attack.

Listen up you knuckleheads! We could pass universal, comprehensive, single payer national health care tomorrow; establish our very own National Institute for Clinical and Health Excellence; and give every single one of you your own personal full time primary care doc who makes house calls, and you'll still be rolling around in a wheelchair with an oxygen bottle and no lower extremities until you croak before you've had time to get half of your social security payments back.

This is not happening because Dr. Spock (not the Vulcan) messed up our childhoods so that we refuse to take individual responsibility.

It's happening because of our toxic behavioral environment. Too much of the wrong kind of food is cheap and easy, and giant corporations spend billions brainwashing us into eating it; we make our living sitting in a chair staring at a glowing screen because we have to, and then spend most of our leisure time doing the same thing because it's cheap, easy and addictive and giant corporations spend billions brainwashing us into doing it; we live in suburbs consisting of endless tract housing built around roads feeding into highways where nothing is within walking distance; and we smoke cigarettes because they're addictive and giant corporations spend billions brainwashing us into doing it.

Fight the power! Eat vegetables, walk places, do stuff.

NYT article here in case I'm not sufficiently authoritative for you.


robin andrea said...

Once all that lard is on the butt, it's even harder to get up and walk it off. I watched Obama (on NBC) eat a huge hamburger last week, and order a dozen more for his staff. What a lousy role model for health. Even if he personally looks good and healthy, eating food like that is the wrong message to send to our very over-weight and lazy-boned country. Imagine the controversy if Obama ate a veggie burger.

Cervantes said...

He exercises a lot, which is how he gets away with the cheeseburgers.

Michelle is trying to push the veggies, as you know, but it's true, he is probably a more powerful role model than she is. Maybe she'll become more active and visible in that area, it seems to be one of the causes she's decided to take on.

C. Corax said...

Holy Toledo! I knew it was bad, but I wouldn't have guessed it was that bad in that age group (especially at the older end). I don't think it'll get better any time soon. We don't even have to get off our lard butts to answer the phone anymore. Games are played on the computer, not in the streets and backyards of neighborhoods. Soon we'll look like the people in Wall-e.

But your rant was awesome.