Americans are Wellness-deficient

January 14/Law & Health Weekly -- Most Americans make New Years' resolutions focused on wellness, and rightfully so -- new research shows Americans have a long way to go toward achieving wellness based on the three pillars of health: healthy diet, responsible supplement use and regular exercise. The "Life...supplemented" My Wellness Scorecard National Study evaluated Americans' wellness regimens on a scale from "AlphaWELL" (those who are proactive about their health) to "OhWELL" (those who do not live healthy lifestyles). Results show three out of every four Americans fall into the category of "WannabeWELL" (44%) or "OhWELL" (33%).

"These 'WannabeWELLs' are on the cusp of wellness," says William Cooper, M.D., medical director of cardiovascular surgery at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital and advisor to the "Life...supplemented" campaign. "They want to be healthier but may not know where to start. What many Americans need are the proper tools to get healthy: simple, easy-to-understand wellness tips and health information."

Study participants took the My Wellness Scorecard, an online assessment tool created with registered dietitians and other wellness experts that evaluates diet, exercise and supplement use, revealing trends in the American lifestyle.

For example, just over half of Americans (51%) report that they do a fairly good job of avoiding processed, fatty and cholesterol-rich foods, but 27% admit they eat too much fatty food like red meat and cream cheese. Although 63% try to eat two to three servings of whole grains every day, many are not paying attention to their intake of oils (30%) or consumption of salt (24%). Also, 46% do not track how much fiber they eat, and just 37% report to limit the salt they use in cooking and read food labels carefully to limit other sources of salt and sodium.

Americans fare better when it comes to daily or weekly habits. More than half of American adults take a multivitamin, and 45% report taking a dietary supplement other than a multivitamin. The number-one reason supplement users take supplements is for general health. A third try to adhere to their exercise regimens at least two to three times a week (36%), and nearly two-thirds (61%) exercise for 30 minutes or more.

"Healthy diet, vitamins and other supplements, and exercise work together to form a foundation for wellness," says Dr. Cooper. "The more education Americans have about these three pillars, the easier it will be to live healthy lifestyles."

Methodology: The 2009 "Life...supplemented" My Wellness Scorecard National Study was conducted October 2 through October 9, 2009 by Ipsos Public Affairs. The survey was conducted online and included a national sample of 1,172 adults aged 18 and older from Ipsos' U.S. online panel. Weighting was employed to balance demographics and ensure that the sample's composition reflects that of the U.S. adult population according to the Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. A survey with an unweighted probability sample of this size would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 2.9 percentage points. Ipsos also conducted the 2007-2009 "Life...supplemented" Healthcare Professionals Impact Studies.

From the January 18, 2010, Prepared Foods E-dition