Nearly half of American adults are regularly sleep-deprived, according to a Gallup poll that has been tracking people’s sleep habits for decades. Less than seven hours a night has become the rule rather than the exception, down by more than an hour since the 1940s. Especially those who are starting careers and young parents don’t get the amount of sleep they need, and it has long-term consequences for their health.
Summer is over and it’s back to work, back to school, back to business as usual. Especially for us Americans, who labor longer hours and take fewer days off compared to the Europeans and even the notoriously industrious Japanese, being busy counts as normalcy, while leisure time is considered a luxury most can ill afford. The notion that hard work is essential for getting ahead in life is so deeply ingrained in our culture that its validity is hardly ever questioned. A rare and refreshing exception is Richard Koch, the bestselling author of “The 80/20 Principle – The Secret to Achieving More with Less.”
Americans feel less assured about the quality of their food than they used to. In a recent survey by Consumer Reports magazine, over 90 percent of respondents said they wanted to know more about what they were eating and would welcome detailed information about food production, including country of origin and genetic modifications. At the same time, the vast majority of consumers buys its food supply from places that offer convenience and low prices. Those are not organic grocery stores or local farmers markets. Walmart and Target are the new top destinations for food shoppers.
Being overweight is associated with multiple negative health effects, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Conversely, weight loss can lower the risk of developing such illnesses, or lighten their burden. Now, a new study from Brazil found that besides physical improvements, slimming down can also produce positive outcomes for the mind.
How healthy you are, or can hope to be, depends on multiple factors, including where you live. For example, if you call Minneapolis-St. Paul home, you breath cleaner air and will find it easier to exercise than almost anywhere else. Washington D.C. has the highest number of swimming pools, tennis courts, and recreational centers in the nation, and health care providers are abundant here. Denver has the lowest obesity rate among big cities and the highest percentage of residents who are in excellent or very good health.
Consumption of antidepressants has been dramatically on the rise worldwide over the past few decades, and there are no signs of abating. The pharmaceutical industry predicts growing demands in the U.S. and globally. Antidepressants and painkillers rank among the most commonly prescribed drugs today. About 11 percent of Americans use antidepressants regularly, a 400 percent increase since the 1980s when surveys were first taken.