A large new study from Harvard University provides more evidence that the GWI’s Wellness
Moonshot: A World Free of Preventable Disease is urgent and highly actionable. The study, examining 34 years of health and lifestyle info on 123,000 men and women, found that five behaviors—eating a healthy diet, not smoking, getting regular physical activity, moderate alcohol consumption, and maintaining a normal weight—can extend life expectancy at 50 by more than a decade, even without the discovery of a single new drug or medical treatment.
The scientists calculated that, on average, a 50-year-old man who adopted all five healthy behaviors would live 12 years longer than a man who did none. A woman adopting the five habits would live an average of 14 more years. The more low-risk factors a person had, the longer their projected life span was. For example, a 50-year-old woman with four healthy factors could expect to live to around 89, those with three to 87, and those with two to 84. Sadly, only 2 percent of the people studied had all five low-risk factors, and a third had two or fewer.
“The question is how to improve behavior,” said Dr. Frank B. Hu, a professor of medicine at Harvard. “Individual changes are not sufficient. We need dramatic changes in food, physical activity and social environment to make healthy choices more accessible, affordable and normative.”