Not-So-Rigorous Action on Health

Seventy-six percent of respondents to a Yankelovich survey “believe they will be successful in improving their health this year.” Why they feel this way is something of a mystery. Other findings presented this month in a Yankelovich Monitor Minute bulletin give reason to think respondents’ fidelity to healthy living is less than strict.

Notably, two-thirds of the people interviewed in February for the research firm’s 2009 Health & Wellness Segmentation Study were classified as overweight or obese. And yet, barely half the respondents (54 percent) reported “actively trying to lose weight.”

Another part of the survey asked people to identify behaviors they believe are conducive to maintaining good health. High scores went to “personal hygiene and cleanliness” (cited by 77 percent), “maintaining a positive attitude” (74 percent), “staying active” (70 percent) and “having a sense of purpose in life” (70 percent). Somewhat fewer pointed to “eating a well-balanced diet” (64 percent), “regular medical checkups/annual exams” (58 percent), “exercising regularly” (58 percent) and “taking prescribed medicines” (53 percent).

Looking at these findings, one notices that people tended to give higher votes to things that are pleasant in themselves (such as “having a sense of purpose in life”) than to behaviors that entail some self-denial or self-discipline (like “eating a well-balanced diet” or “exercising regularly”). What if your purpose in life is to sit on the couch eating pork rinds?