Young Americans with Lofty Health Expectations are in for a Sore Surprise
"I am not young enough to know everything." - Oscar Wilde
A survey of Americans ages 18 to 44 revealed a few alarming contradictions in the way that young Americans view their own health behaviors and the risks of future health complications facing them.
Unsurprisingly, most 18 to 24 year olds said that they wanted to "live long and maintain quality health throughout their lives." Their average desired age-of-death was 98 years old, while 25 to 44 year olds wanted to make it to age 91. This is kind of like when you wanted the perfect guy all your life, and by the time you got to 25, you just wanted a guy with a job. Ahhhh, to dream.
However, approximately one third of those surveyed do NOT think that practicing healthy behavior--such as eating a low-fat diet with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, drinking alcohol in moderation and exercising--will affect their chances of stroke later on in life. Furthermore, 18 percent could not identify at least one stroke risk factor. This makes sense considering that to this day, we're still not sure if it's oranges, lemons or toast that you smell right before having a stroke...makes walking past a diner scary at times.
The survey results revealed even more disparities between the desired goal of living to 98 and attitudes toward health. Forty-three percent of 18 to 24 year olds were least concerned about cardiovascular disease as a potential health threat (despite the prevalence of heart disease in America), while 36 percent of 25 to 34 year olds said that they were not concerned about cardiovascular diseases at all.
Most surprisingly, despite the fact that someone in America has a stroke every 40 seconds, and that strokes can result in severe paralysis, all of the groups said that they were least worried about strokes as a potential personal health problem.
The survey also revealed an interesting age bias: 8 out of 10 people ages 25 to 44 believe that they are living a healthy lifestyle; indeed, that they are living a healthier lifestyle than the 18 to 24 year olds participating in the survey.
Living in the moment is spectacular; but, the moment you can have on a yacht when you're 70 will be so much better than the one you had eating a cheeseburger in your sweats at 25.
Source: American Heart Association (2011, May 2). Young adults' beliefs about their health clash with risky behaviors. ScienceDaily. Retrieve from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/05/110502083432.htm