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Am J Med. 2009 Jun;122(6):528-34. doi: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2008.11.013.

Adherence to healthy lifestyle habits in US adults, 1988-2006.

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  • 1Department of Family Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC 29425, USA.



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.


Analysis of adherence to 5 healthy lifestyle trends (>or=5 fruits and vegetables/day, regular exercise >12 times/month, maintaining healthy weight [body mass index 18.5-29.9 kg/m(2)], 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.


Over the last 18 years, the percent of adults aged 40-74 years with a body mass index >or=30 kg/m(2) 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.


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.

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