Insurers and employers hoping to encourage healthier lifestyles among their health coverage beneficiaries know that they have their work cut out for them. Take diet. Public policies that attempt to change dietary habits face challenges that public policies against smoking can sidestep. Tell someone to stop smoking, but that he or she can smoke one or three times a day, and pretty soon that person is back to their old habits. No one can go cold turkey off of eating.
Exercise is another hurdle, as a recent CDC report illustrates. The agency’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says that 31 million Americans aged 50 or older don’t engage in any kind of physical activity. That’s 26% of men and more than 29% of women.
“Adults benefit from any amount of physical activity,” said Janet E. Fulton, Ph.D., chief of CDC’s Physical Activity and Health Branch and one of the authors of the report. “Helping inactive people become more physically active is an important step towards healthier and more vibrant communities.”