Americans Might Think They’re Healthier Than They Really Are

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A new national poll from the Atlantic shows that 90 percent of us think we’re in “very good” or “somewhat good” health. Sarah Kliff is skeptical:

This flies a bit in the face of what public health research tells us about how healthy Americans are. More than one-third are obese, according to the most recent Centers for Disease Control numbers. About 10 percent of Americans live with a chronic condition, like diabetes or high blood pressure. This data suggests there’s some space between how healthy we think we are, and how healthy we actually are.

Hmmm. The data is presented hazily in that slide, but it looks to me like things break down about like this:

  • Very Good: 50 percent
  • Somewhat Good: 40 percent
  • Bad: 9 percent

That doesn’t sound so far off. I have high blood pressure controlled by meds, but I’d still describe my health as “somewhat good.” And while we can argue about definitions and effects of obesity, I don’t think I’d automatically put someone with a BMI of 31 in the “bad health” category.

I dunno. Am I just grading on a curve here? Is “somewhat good” overoptimistic for a lot of us?


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Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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