Study results reported by the American Heart Association reveal that simple lifestyle advice (healthy diet, regular exercise, watching your weight, drinking alcohol in moderation or not smoking) already a serious difference in longevity.

Prevention more beneficial than treatment

The USA is one of the richest countries in the world, but Americans have a shorter life expectancy than other high-income countries, such as Japan, Canada or Norway. Heart disease and stroke are indeed the leading contributors to premature death in this country, with 2,300 Americans dying from cardiovascular disease every day, or one death every 38 seconds. The researchers of this study point out that the American healthcare system is heavily focused on finding drugs and treating disease. However, greater importance given to prevention could have a positive impact on life expectancy, which this new study aims to demonstrate.

74% less risk of premature death

To estimate the impact of lifestyle factors on the U.S. population, researchers analyzed mortality data from the Nurses’ Health Study, Health Professionals Follow-up Study, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES ) as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Specifically, they looked at how the following 5 behaviors affect a person’s longevity:

  2. Healthy eating (diet score above 40% in each cohort)
  3. Exercise regularly (30 minutes a day of moderate to vigorous activity)
  4. Maintain a healthy body weight (18.5-24.9 kg/m2)
  5. Have moderate alcohol consumption (5-15 g/day for women, 5-30 g/day for men)

Overall, compared to people who followed none of the 5 lifestyle habits, those who followed all 5 had a 74% lower risk of dying prematurely during the follow-up period (27 years for men, 34 years for women). In addition, a lifestyle combining the 5 healthy gestures was also associated with an 82% reduction in the risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and 65% of dying from cancer.


Yanping L. et al: Impact of Healthy Lifestyle Factors on Life Expectancies in the US Population.

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