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 (>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.
Results: 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.
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.