Below are some facts about the average American woman’s health; I will cover men’s health next time.
• The average American woman was 5’3 in 1960 and weighed 140.2 pounds; in 2002, the average woman was 5’4 and weighed 164.3 pounds (http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/healthcare/a/tallbutfat.htm).
• Heart disease is the leading cause of death in women 65 and older and the second leading cause of death in women 45-64 (http://www.cdc.gov/features/heartmonth/).
• In 2000, the average woman consumed 1,877 calories per day. In 1971, the average was 1,542 (http://www.faqs.org/nutrition/Diab-Em/Dietary-Trends-American.html).
• 16% of American women engage in daily exercise (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus.nr0.htm); the average American watches 4 hours of television daily (http://www.csun.edu/science/health/docs/tv&health.html).
• The most common reason people (not just women) give for not exercising is lack of time (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6391079/).
• Women who lift weights not only reduce their risk of osteoporosis, they also experience less weight gain in middle age, particularly in the abdominal region (http://www.philly.com/inquirer/magazine/20100802_Weightlifting_professor_attests_to_health_benefits.html). (This is an interesting article, and worthwhile read if you are interested in some of the reasearch being done).
The take home message is American women are eating more and moving less than we did thirty years ago. This can be blamed on technological advances, the fact that we drive more, and the accessibility of fast food, among other things. As a result, we have to make a more concerted effort to move and pay attention to what we are eating. Try things like having a “no TV Tuesday” at your house, or joining thousands of Americans for “meatless Mondays.” Other ways to incorporate activity into your everyday life are take the parking spot farther away, always take the stairs, and commit to walking the dog everyday- even if you don’t have one.
Yours in health and wellness,