How Healthy (Fit?) Are Americans?

Article by Dr. Paul Kennedy
Read more by this author.

by Dr. Paul Kennedy – Leisure Fitness, Wellness Doctor

Every year the U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (commonly known as the CDC) gives America an indication of our general health and wellness. The CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics report for 2011 is now available. The report is a result of the 2011 National Health Survey and the results are a bit of a mixed bag. It appears that there are, indeed, areas where American health habits and general health has improved and other areas that continue to be challenging for our nation. As always, it seems, the news is both good and bad. And it also seems, at least to me, that many Americans are having difficulty facing the truth about their own behaviors when it comes to health. For example, the epidemic of obesity and Type 2 diabetes (the “acquired form”) continues to rise yet only 2.4 % of the population considers their personal level of health as “poor”!

So that we can finish on a more positive note, let’s take a look and our national health and wellness “challenges” first and then describe the things that appear to be improving.

As always, you will see that there is a direct correlation a regular fitness program and improved health and wellness. No surprise there, right?


According to the CDC, self-reported obesity levels in Americans have increased from 19.4% to 28.7% in the last 15 years. The sad part is that the actual rate of obesity is actually somewhat higher (remember that these are “self-reported” rates) and obesity among children also continues to rise! Of course, this portends higher rates of obesity and cardiovascular disease in the future. What has been considered as the major cause of this continued rise in obesity? The answer is obvious. Poor diets that are high in saturated fats and high in simple carbohydrates such as sugar and high fructose corn syrup are the main culprits. Lack of regular exercise is the other.
One in five adults aged 65 or older has diabetes (usually the “acquired Type 2) as is the case with one in ten adults aged 45 to 54. In other words, as we age our chances of acquiring diabetes increases and the reasons for this increase have long been known to be poor diets and lack of regular exercise. And the rise in diabetes in all age groups–even children, teens and young adults—continues to rise.

What is the answer to THIS health challenge?
Just as described in the paragraph above, it is a better eating plan and regular exercise!

Are you starting to see a pattern here?


After a rise in the percentage of adults that drink five or more alcoholic drinks per day since 2004, that percentage has DROPPED to about 22%. But that still means that more than one in five Americans are drinking more than they should. This is a direct cause of poor nutrition, liver problems and a decline in general health not to mention increased chances of dying or being injured when behind the wheel. The number of Americans who smoke DROPPED from 24.7% in 1997 to 18.9% in 2011. The health and wellness benefits there are obvious to all since smoking is the single greatest cause of premature death!

Another good sign is that 48.4% of Americans aged 18 or older reported that they did some type of aerobic exercise on a regular basis.

This represents a continuing increase in this important generic cialis online health and wellness habit and the percentage was the highest ever recorded! But what this also means is that over half of all Americans DON’T exercise regularly.


It seems increasing clear that we have a real dichotomy of health habits in America today. After even a brief review of the data, it shows that about half of us are starting to get the message about the relationship between fitness and health and the relationship between proper eating habits and health. And half of us AREN’T getting the message. For those who DON’T get it, understand that just a minimal amount of physical activity each day along with a small reduction in daily calorie intake (say, 200 less calories per day) can, over time produce a multiplicative effect on health and wellness. It simply requires a little self-motivation, commitment and patience.

Let’s make next year’s CDC report on American health habits even better than the last. We’re all in this together!

I’m Dr Paul Kennedy and that’s the “Be Fit, Stay Fit” Topic of the Month for July 2012. Good luck with YOUR program. I KNOW you can do it!

Adams PF, Martinez ME, Vickerie JL,

Kirzinger WK. Summary health statistics for the U.S. population: National Health Interview Survey, 2010 National Center for Health Statistics. Vital Health Stat 10(251). 2011.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *