Monday, February 13, 2012 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

The 4 deadly habits

Most people have a pretty good idea about what things are healthy and what is unhealthy. Sure, there are different opinions on what diet is the best and how much fat or sugar we should eat. Still most people will agree that smoking for example is not good for you, and that working out has some pretty impressive health benefits. Recently though. I came across the results of a scientific study that really put into perspective just how damaging certain habits can be.

The study followed 5000 Brits, with an average age of 44 years, over a period of 20 years. The researchers asked the participants 4 simple questions: Do you smoke? Do you drink more than three drinks of alcohol a day? Do you exercise less than two hours a week? And; Do eat fruits or vegetables less than three times a day? That the people who answered yes to all of these four questions weren't models of health is probably not surprising, but how serious the effect were caught me at least by surprise.

Of the people who answered yes to all four questions, the mortality rate was 29%. In contrast, in the group of people who answered no to all questions, mortality rates were just 8%. That is a huge difference. In fact, the scientists calculated that the four deadly habits of smoking, drinking, not exercising and not eating vegetables or fruits on average shortens your lifespan by 12 years!

To me, these results serve as additional motivation to eat right, move more, and treat my body so it will last. Not only will a healthy lifestyle add many years to your life, you'll feel a whole lot better doing it. For me that smoke and drink is most certainly not worth the price.

  1. I suggest that these habits are markers for having been, and continuing to be health conscious - the trait of "health consciousness".

    I recall my own reaction to a similar report around 1983/84 where the markers were heavy drinking and heavy smoking. Both markers were associated with a multiplicative model of risk when compared with the risk of either alone. I concluded that it marked a lifestyle choice - which reflected a disposition towards "live fast, don't care if I die young" - or self-indulgence.

    I reserved my own self-indulgence in being relatively fit to enjoy mountaineering and skiing. I risked my limbs, not my fitness.

    I would also expect the same questions to correlate with adherers vs non-adherers in diet trials.


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