Cataloguing Our Unhealthy Ways

Before 2007 slips entirely down the memory hole, a Wall Street Journal Online/Harris Interactive Health-Care Poll has seized the opportunity to document health-related things people were doing wrong last year. Women were more likely than men to shortchange their own health.

Among the examples of this: 55 percent of women, vs. 49 percent of men, didn’t get enough sleep; 47 percent of women, vs. 37 percent of men, ate an unhealthy diet or too much food; 11 percent of women, vs. 8 percent of men, failed to take prescribed medications. Women were also more likely than men last year to have needed to lose weight (62 percent vs. 49 percent). Since women continue to outlive men on average, they may feel more able to get away with unhealthy practices.

Behavior last year varied little from that of the previous year. One exception was men’s intake of unhealthy or excessive food, which fell by 12 percentage points from 2006 to 2007. There was also a decline (by 5 percentage points) in the number of women saying they needed to lose weight. That’s consistent with a downturn (by 4 points) in the number of women who said they’d eaten an unhealthy diet or too much food last year.