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.”

Access this new study

Read a summary of findings in the Harvard Gazette

AuthorBeth McGroarty, Director of Research, GWI