Healthy Lifestyle Choices Helps Longevity

Research continues to show following five fairly simple healthy lifestyle habits can make a significant difference in life expectancy, for both sexes, the more you implement the more likely it is that you will live longer and more healthy.

How is it that the USA spends the most on healthcare, yet despite efforts remains to have one of the lowest life expectancies of all developed nations? The Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has conducted a massive study on the impact of health habits on life expectancy involving over 120,000 participants using the NHS 78,000 women 34 year study and HPFS 40,000 men 28 years study, analyzing data on diet, physical activity, smoking, body weight, and alcohol consumption from validated questionnaires.

These 5 areas were chosen as they have been shown in previous studies to have a huge impact on risk of premature death. Healthy diet was calculated and rated based on reported intake of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, healthy fats, omega 3 fatty acids, red and processed meats, sugar sweetened beverages, trans fats, and sodium. Physical activity level was measured as being at least 3- minutes per day of moderate to vigorous daily activity. Healthy body weight or BMI is between 18.5 and 24.9. Smoking has no positive amount, healthy meant never had smoked. Between 5 to 15 grams per day for women, and 5 to 30 grams per day for men was considered to be moderate alcohol intake. Factors such as ethnicity, age, and medication use was also looked at, and comparison to data from the CDC Prevention’s Wide Ranging Online Data for Epidemiologic Research and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.

Healthy habits have been shown to make a huge difference. Analysis shows participants who met criteria for all 5 habits enjoyed significantly longer lives: 14 years for women and 12 years for men. Participants with none of the five healthy habits were more likely to die prematurely from cancer or CVD. Life expectancy was calculated by how many of the healthy habits participants followed, any one habit extended lifespan by 2 years, with more healthy habits translating into even more years. These findings confirm results from previous similar research such as one study using the Health and Retirement Study data finding individuals 50 years of age and older of normal weight who were non-smoking and were moderate drinkers lived on average 7 years longer; and another mega analysis study involving 500,000 participants found that over half of premature deaths were due to unhealthy lifestyle factors such as obesity, poor diet, inactivity, smoking, and excessive alcohol intake.

It has been said that the USA spends outlandish amount of money on developing drugs and treatments for disease rather than trying to prevent them which would be a far better course to follow, and lack of can be seen as a big problem.

Worldwide experts suggest the best way to help people make healthy lifestyle change is at a large scale population level via public health efforts and policy changes, for example seat belt and motorcycle helmet legislation. Very little progress has been made in regards to progress with transfat and tobacco legislation. Big industry provides much push back on that progress to keep up with their need for more and more profit gains. If there were guidelines and laws helping the population to live healthier those big companies won’t be selling as much fast food, soda, and cigarettes, making those companies pocketing extreme amounts of money off of unhealthy lifestyles choices not very happy at all about the thought of possible loss from their bottom dollar, seeing people as dollar signs. Some countries have started implementing taxes on fast foods and sugary drinks to help fight globesity, one can only hope this spreads worldwide.

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