New Gallup Poll Finding Only 1 in 7 Americans Are Healthy a Wake-Up Call

My son was focused on the news Monday evening and informed me that I should watch the television with him for a couple minutes; he knew that I would want to hear the latest numbers regarding overweight Americans.

It wasn’t good news. Now I realize that many people here in the United States are dealing with weight issues: Overweight and obese Americans combined make up more than 60 percent of the population. But it still surprised me to hear that the Gallup poll found that just one in seven American workers are considered “normal weight” and do not have a chronic health problem.

Think about that… one in seven! Obviously we can all do the math — this means that six in seven people have a chronic health problem! The chronic conditions include having had a heart attack, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cancer, diabetes, asthma, depression or recurring physical pain in the neck, back, knee or legs.

Wow. That’s the only word that came to mind when I listened to the findings.

Oh, but there is more. Americans miss approximately 450 million days of work each year because of these health problems. The Gallup poll stated that the sick days from this overweight population could be costing the economy more than $153 billion per year in lost productivity.

Finding The Will — and Time

It’s sad. I wish that I could find a solution. Well, actually I have found one… and it has been the perfect solution for me.

I was once one of those six in seven Americans who did have a chronic health problem. Headaches were a daily issue for me, often causing me to miss work for days. When you are morbidly obese, pain just comes with the territory. Oh, and I was exhausted all the time, too. The list of issues that I encountered on a weekly basis could go on and on. Then in January 2001, I decided to make a change.

The change was my perfect solution, and I already know — yes, I know — that my solution could work for millions of Americans too. But it’s the desire to change that must come first.

Secondly, Americans must become creative when it comes to time. Why time? Because there never seems to be enough of it in a day, so a high percentage of the population resorts to consuming vast amounts of fast unhealthy food on daily basis because they’re busy. Americans know that these aren’t the best decisions in order to stay healthy and fit, but they think there is no other choice. Their time is very limited, they have to eat, so they eat what is quick and (here’s another factor to consider) affordable. Yes, I suppose you could say the food is “cheap.”

So not only do Americans make unhealthy food choices due to time and money, but they also allow time to stop them from exercising daily. Many claim that there never seems to be enough time in a day, and so they drop physical activity from their daily agenda.

Steps Toward Turnaround

Years ago people just weren’t as busy. Today, each hour of the day is consumed with busy work and we’re seeing the overweight population continue to rise. Hmmmm… there’s something to that.

So what was my perfect solution? I had the desire to make a change and I was creative with my time. I found 22 minutes per day to walk, every single day no matter what (walking during lunchtime works great!). I made affordable, healthy changes to my daily food consumption and I successfully shed 162 pounds. My daily headaches ended, the body aches and pains are gone and I’m not exhausted any longer; actually, I am full of energy!

I’m proud to know that I’m among the one in seven Americans who do not have a chronic health problem today — who once was included in the six in seven who do. Now my problem is convincing others to try it my way… at least attempt to.

Do you have any “perfect solutions” that you would like to share?

Photo by Michael Kappel

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Read 9 Comments

  1. An emphatic Wow, is my first reaction too. 1 in 7 healthy. That’s a bit more than 14% or only 44 million Americans out of the 309 million total population. 

    Well, I suppose that leaves a lot of room for improvement. What’s great is that the majority of these chronic diseases are consequences of controllable lifestyle factors. Some people call them “diseases of civilization” as they result from the inactivity, stress, environmental degradation, and poor nutrition found in most modern cities. 

    So, if these are are resultant of controllable behaviors that means there’s room for improvement. A most powerful tool that is often overlooked is our brain. It is perhaps one of the only things we have complete control over. And, just like Jodi did, we can reprogram it to foster healthier habits through repetition. Jodi made up her mind to walk everyday and begin making healthier food choices. She did this through repetition and habit formation. 

    Our brains our malleable and we are in control. To make some things in life easier and more efficient we automate certain processes so less thinking is needed. Be aware of those automated tendencies that lead you to unhealthy habits. Change them, it’s your mind – you choose.

  2. Daniel,

    Thank you for your comments!  You surely understand where the problem begins and ends:  within our brain!  Yes, it is one of the only things that we each have COMPLETE CONTROL over – reprogramming it “can be done” as I, along with numerous other individuals, have proven. 

    But… the decision of the 265 million Americans who suffer from numerous chronic diseases to “reprogram their brains” to live a healthier life must be made first; that is when the question of “How?” enters my mind. 

    Is it your opinion that this population desires to make some healthy changes yet don’t have the knowledge ~ or that they feel it’s not worth their time and effort to even try?

    I’d love to know what you think, Daniel.


  3. Between the two factors you’re asking me, call them awareness and motivation, I believe there is a greater lack of motivation in this population. Most people know how to eat healthfully and be active, from there it’s just matter of doing it. Some things that may inhibit motivation include low self-efficacy, time constraints, and feelings that new behaviors would have a meaningless impact on overall health. Of course, all of these are based on the individual’s perception. Sometimes the easier choices seem to be the unhealthy ones, i.e. fast food, sitting on couch, etc…, especially when these choices become habits, engrained in the daily lifestyle.

    As it is now, I would say that many people feel obligated to do too much too soon and either talk themselves out of it before starting or burnout quickly. That’s where the knowledge factor comes in. If more people were aware of simple health choices and had the knowledge of their benefits, I think we would see a much healthier population. That’s because if individuals believed these simple changes would get serious results they would be much more motivated to adhere to the changes.

    The whole thing starts to get too complicated when we start talking about fad diets, supplements, and crazy workout routines. That’s why I like your approach, you got into a simple habit of walking everyday and making better dietary choices. There’s not much to that but you had great success doing it. Yours is a sustainable approach. One worth imitating. 

    1. Daniel,

      I am learning a few things with each comment that you post … your insight is extremely interesting and the knowledge you share is truly remarkable!

      I’m finding that I agree with each and every statement that you make, as you bring light to facts that are often overlooked.  You commented: “If more people were aware of simple health choices and had the knowledge of their benefits, I think we would see a much healthier population.”    That sums it up … and now to figure out “how?”

      I’ve spoken to many individuals who feel that simple changes in their lifestyle (such as omitting sugary soda from their diet or taking a 20-minute, daily walk) can’t possibly create any health benefits… often believing that the changes must be complex in order to bring success, simple changes can’t “possibly make a difference.”    My goal is to allow them to realize that SIMPLE WORKS.  

      Any opinions here?


  4. Simple works is a great approach, one I agree with wholeheartedly. “How” is the big question, one I unfortunately don’t have a specific answer to. 

    As I continue to work at this I believe that some important steps are, establish authority behind our message (whether that comes from us personally or a well-recognized expert), foster strong, trusting relationships with the community (both our online readers and those with whom we interact with in person), and show clear results of how SIMPLE WORKS. Yours is a good example of this. Now we need more examples, we need scientific research, and more testimonies.

    Another thing I’m considering while writing this response is taking the complex and/or popular health techniques and finding the common factors in all of them. Showing how they are all related and simplifying them. This way people see that long lasting, vibrant health really boils down to a few basic elements – nutrition, activity, sleep & stress. (I would personally add a mental/spirit/love aspect to this). These elements can be brought about in a myriad of different ways, that’s why simple works, or conversely, that’s why complex works. 

    The complex/popular techniques succeed with mind games. The individual is led to believe that the hard-to-understand science makes it legitimate. Or, in the popular case, that if a bunch of people are doing it, it must be good.  It may be that complex has the potential to be most effective. But it’s often too much to handle at the start (especially with all the other things going on in life). Simple is manageable, simple is master-able. We build confidence in completing things, not by choosing a lofty goal and giving up along the way. Even if the people we talk/write to wish to make it to a complex “habit” they’ll need to break it down into simple achievable steps. That’s where we can help show them how simple works. To build a snowman, we start with a few flakes and keep on rolling until the masterpiece is complete. That’s how we build momentum, simply, so that complex things move easily.

    Jodi – I’m glad we’ve opened communications and can now work together in this direction.


    1. Dan,

      Wow.  Seriously … WOW!

      You have left me speechless ~ which is basically a miracle!  Actually, you’ve brought me to point that I’ve never experienced through any communication from all my past years of sharing my “lifestyle journey / healthy living advice” …   I’m learning so much from you, Dan, as I’m sure others are also!   Again, WOW!  

      I am hoping that we can continue to work together – to create a healthier Michigan … a healthier nation.  This goal can be achieved; I suppose you could say that WE will “keep on rolling …”  there are many “snowmen” out there!

      Am I wrong to assume that you have a daily blog also?  Could you please share your website information with ALL of us?  I would love to read more!

      *Yes, showing the negative effects on some common unhealthy habits, such as consuming sugary soda, is a GREAT idea!  I’ll make sure to cover that soon! 

      Thank you, Dan, truly.


      1. Thanks for the comments Jodi, it means a lot. 

        To answer your question, I have a blog yes, a daily blog – not yet. I’m just starting out as a blogging/social media health advocate (if you’ll permit the term 🙂 ). 

        You can find me at 

        The site is still rather incomplete and I feel a bit uneasy sharing it. However, I feel that it’s worth opening up and seeing what happens. Perhaps you could take a look at it and send me some of your thoughts on what you like and what can be improved upon. 

        Look for changes coming soon. I have a some major revamps in the works. Thanks Jodi.

        In the meantime I’ll continue reading your posts and sharing ideas as they come. 

        Good things ahead,


        1. Daniel,

          I took a long look at the site: The Wellness Evolution. I found it to be very informative, and I learned a few things too. For example:  I’ve never heard of Capoeira – so I looked it up and found that it is a Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, sports, and music. Very interesting!  
          There are a few areas of the site that I feel will be greatly appreciated by those who are focusing on healthier lifestyles!    If you have a few moments, please contact me via email: [email protected] so I can go into detail regarding a few questions that I have regarding the existing content along with a few thoughts that I would like to share with you (… hey, you asked about my thoughts – I’ll share them, no problem!) 

          Thank you!  Jodi

  5. An additional thought – we can show the negative effects of some common unhealthy habits – e.g. sugary sodas – and therefore show how the simple elimination of pop from the diet can have big effects.

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