Eighty-five percent of Americans characterize their lifestyle as somewhat or very healthy, according to a survey released by the American Public Health Association (APHA).

“The trend of Americans making healthier lifestyle changes, such as eating better and exercising more, shows that the U.S. population is taking the necessary steps to becoming a healthier nation,” said Georges C. Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA. “Americans need to ‘start small, think big,’ in transforming our nation into a healthier nation. Individuals recognize that their personal changes can result in broader community impact.”

The survey, conducted in anticipation of National Public Health Week 2010 (NPHW), running through April 11, uncovered what Americans believe constitutes “a healthier America,” and measured how Americans characterize their personal health and their ability to make a personal or community difference.

Key findings include:
  • 47 percent of Americans want to be an inspiration for healthy living for their children;
  • 51 percent of Americans have helped friends or family make healthy lifestyle changes in the past 6 months;
  • Although 85 percent of Americans characterize their lifestyle as somewhat or very healthy, 20 percent perceive the lifestyle of the U.S. population as somewhat or very healthy; and
  • While 64 percent of Americans have already made healthy changes to their lifestyle, an additional 21 percent are thinking about making healthy changes.
“It’s encouraging that many Americans are taking steps towards healthier living, but unfortunately these same adults don’t view our nation as making these same strides,” said Dr. Benjamin. “This disconnect shows that we need to commit to promoting good health in our communities, which can create a ripple effect across our neighborhoods, our cities, states and, hopefully, our nation.”

APHA established National Public Health Week, April 5 – 11, to educate and engage the U.S. public with ways to protect and improve our nation’s health. This year’s theme,A Healthier America: One Community at a Time, encourages communities across the country to commit to making America a healthier nation.

“Healthy behavior is contagious and it begins with each of us,” said Dr. Benjamin. “If every American took just a few small steps towards a healthier lifestyle, the next generation could quite possibly be the healthiest in the world.”

For full survey results, visit http://www.nphw.org/nphw10/layout_pg_facts_survey.htm.

APHA has created a new online video (http://generationpublichealth.org/),A Healthier America, to view and share with others on ways to educate individuals about the importance of personal engagement in creating a healthier America.