By Nanci Hellmich, USA TODAY
This is not a nation of teetotalers or regular exercisers, new government data show.The National Health Interview Survey, based on telephone interviews with 79,000 adults over three years, has found:
•61% of people in the USA drink alcohol. These are adults who have had at least 12 drinks in their lifetime and at least one drink in the past year.
•31% of people do enough regular leisure-time physical activity to get health benefits — that is, moderate exercise for 30 minutes five times a week or vigorous activity for 20 minutes three times a week.
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•40% do no regular leisure-time physical activity.
•21% are former smokers.
•58.5% have never smoked cigarettes. That is, they have never smoked or smoked fewer than 100 cigarettes in their entire life.
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“There has been no progress at all in increasing physical activity since we started doing this report in 1997,” says Charlotte Schoenborn, a health statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 40% of respondents were doing nothing then, the same as now, Schoenborn says.
“We are a long way from where the health experts want us to be with smoking — one in five is way above national health goals,” Schoenborn says.
Education makes a difference. The survey found that adults who had higher levels of education were less likely to be smoking, were more active in their leisure time, were less likely to be obese and were less likely to sleep as little as six hours or less in the past 24 hours.
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Overall, “having higher levels of education or greater economic resources tends to increase the likelihood of having healthier behaviors,” Schoenborn says.
In addition, Schoenborn says, “married adults tend to have healthier behaviors overall than people who are divorced, separated or widowed.”