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Am I Fit or Unfit? 8 Startling Statistics about Diets and Health Over 50

Human health has been changing dramatically. Here are 8 startling statistics that reveal the current state of our health, diets, and fitness.

Never before have so many health-improving techniques and technologies existed:

  • But does everyone have access to these health advancements?
  • And for those who do have access, are they availing themselves of the opportunities?
  • How fit are most people today?

What follows are statistics that reveal valuable clues about where you can focus your energy in order to look better, feel better, and become healthier. (For more detailed information and specific sources for these statistics, see the citations near the end of this article.)

Relevant Statistics for People Over 50

1. Mortality Statistics: 60% of Deaths Are Preventable

Statistics reveal that causes of death are usually lifestyle-related.

A meta-analysis of 15 studies reveals that approximately 60 percent of premature deaths are due to unhealthy lifestyle factors – such as flawed diets, lack of physical activity, smoking, obesity, and drinking too much alcohol.

Additionally, recent research results suggest healthier diets improve cognition. Clearer thinking leads to better choices which, in turn, might reduce risk of death by unintentional accidents. 39% of deaths from unintentional injuries are preventable.

2. Movement Statistics: At Least A Quarter of Adults Over 50 Don’t Exercise

In the US alone, physical inactivity is putting over 31 million people at risk of cancer, diabetes, and heart disease – and other developed countries aren’t doing much better. This is particularly baffling because most of the chronic conditions afflicting people over 50 could be prevented or managed with regular physical activity.

3. Cardiovascular Statistics: 32% of All Deaths Worldwide are from Heart Failure

What do the US, the UK, Canada, Australia, and Western Europe (including Germany, Netherlands, and France) have in common? Their leading causes of death are very similar. The leading causes of non-accidental, non-communicable deaths are generally:

  • Heart Disease and Cardiac Events
  • Cancer
  • Stroke

For example, in the US, heart disease and cancer are neck-and-neck as they vie for the top spot on the mortality list. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2020 this number of deaths occurred for these specific reasons:

  • Heart Disease 696,962
  • Cancer 602,350
  • Stroke 160,264

Of those countries, Australia provides a slight exception in that dementia, including Alzheimer’s, is nearer the top of their list. (Also worth mentioning is that South Africa and India – still listed as developing countries – have tuberculosis and diarrheal diseases included near the top of their lists.)

Almost 18 million people die each year from heart disease. It is the leading cause of death globally.

fit health diet statistics

4. Coping Statistics: 77% of People Experience Stress that Affects their Physical Health

Statistics on quality of life reveal a distinction between death versus decline.

The problem with revealing statistics about leading causes of death is that most people don’t care that much. What do they care about more? Decline.

Though adults don’t expect to live forever, they do hope to enjoy a high quality of life while they’re still alive – and that means they’d prefer to avoid the physical pain, exhaustion, and brain fog that accompany many of the top degenerative diseases. The idea is to live healthy and happy for a long time – and when it is time to die, to do it as quickly and painlessly as possible.


Ironically, much of the anxiety and depression people experience stems from worry about their wellness, which – in turn – negatively impacts their physical health even further. According to the Global Organization for Stress, 77 percent of people experience stress that worsens their health. This figure varies a bit depending on the specific country. The US has the highest anxiety levels. To add complexity to this issue, some of these stressful worries occur below the level of conscious thought.

5. Eating Statistics: 20% Reduction in Sugar Intake Corellates with Nearly 20% Reduction in Disease

Statistics on diets establish that reducing sugar intake improves health outcomes.

Carbs aren’t bad. It’s just that our diets contain too many carbs relative to our activity levels.

Modern humans are more sedentary than they realize. Just because our minds are over-stimulated doesn’t mean our bodies are moving.

Glycation is a term that refers to the damage done to the human body from a bloodstream that is too often flowing with excess sugar.

More than 1 in 3 adults in the US have elevated blood sugar. That’s almost 88 million who have prediabetes. Of those, more than 84% don’t know they have it. Prediabetes puts you at increased risk of developing type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Every cell in our bodies, including cancer cells, uses sugar (glucose) from our bloodstream for fuel.

We get that blood sugar mostly from the carbohydrates we eat.

For example, in the US, the average person consumes about 132 pounds of flour each year. Worse still, the average per person for sugar is almost 152 pounds (about 70 kilos) in one year. That’s 6 cups of sugar per week. Most people are not athletic enough to burn off this extra sugar in their bloodstream and so damage is wrought.

A 20% reduction in sugar reduces the severity of many common health conditions by 20%, including coronary heart disease, type-2 diabetes, liver disease, obesity – and there is possibly an indirect link between sugar consumption and cancer cell growth.

Interestingly, a 20% reduction in sugar would also annually avert $10.3 billion in medical costs by 2035 in the US. These benefits increase proportionally when sugar is reduced by half!

6. Habit Statistics: Lose 9% More Fat by Eating within a Time Window, while Lowering your Risk of Stroke by 11% by Enjoying Tea and Coffee

New statistics on diets disclose that time-restricted eating combined with coffee and tea consumption provides a surprisingly effective health boost.

This particular hack on diets is fairly easy to do yet can have a profoundly positive impact on your overall health.

In a randomized controlled trial, overweight adults who ate their calories between 12:00 pm and 8:00 pm – and consumed only water, black coffee, or tea during the 16-hour fasting window, lost 9% more fat than the group that ate the same number of calories, only with no time window. Furthermore, those who drink both coffee and tea (instead of just one or the other), reduce their chances of stroke by 11%. Those whose diets include 2 coffees and 2 teas each day reduce stroke risk by 32% while also significantly reducing their chances of dementia.

7. Physical Activity Statistics: Exercise Reduces Death Risk Up to 70%

Good things happen when your habitual workouts include cardio, strength training, and mobility drills.

Medical doctor Peter Attia asserts that exercise is the single most important longevity drug we have. “A well-crafted exercise program that is geared toward strength, muscle, and cardio respiratory fitness helps your risk of death go down significantly – a five-fold reduction in all-cause mortality for those with elite fitness versus those with below-average fitness.”

Additionally, mobility moves such as stretching, Pilates, or yoga help to keep your joints supple and healthy.

fit diets statistics

8. Psychology Statistics: You’re 33% Less Likely To Have a Heart Attack if You Maintain a Positive Mental Outlook

Research has demonstrated an indisputable link between health benefits and having a positive outlook. Blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, stroke risk, and blood sugar can all be made worse by a negative attitude – or better by a positive one.

According to researchers at John Hopkins Medicine, those who have a family history of heart disease and an upbeat attitude are one-third less likely to have a heart attack within five to 25 years than those with a more negative outlook.

Anxiety and stress are often the results of repetitive, negative thoughts that loop inside the mind.

Cultivating a positive outlook means identifying those loops as they occur and then gently pivoting to a more positive thought cycle, such as identifying what about your life is working.

Using thought replacement in this way can improve your cheerfulness, energy level, and feelings of satisfaction – and, over time, can also improve your physical health.

Statistics Conclusion: “Am I Fit or Unfit?”

Statistics on health and diets provide you with an opportunity to quickly recognize which interventions will likely have the biggest impact.

You might be trying to ascertain exactly how fit or unfit you are currently:

  • Your medical doctor can help you answer this question most accurately. Basic blood lab results from your yearly physicals – such as fasting glucose (blood sugar) and cholesterol, as well as blood pressure readings – provide valuable clues.
  • Additionally, you can gauge your level of physical energy when you wake up each morning. Do you lunge out of bed each morning, enthusiastic to begin the day?
  • Finally, a fast way to take a snapshot of your health is simply to look objectively at yourself naked in the mirror – not to shame yourself for not being supermodel-perfect but, rather, to honestly determine how much excess body fat you might be carrying.

Too much abdominal fat is usually a clear indication that additional health protocols need to be implemented.

The most intelligent ways to improve your own health are mostly the same as they’ve always been: an anti-inflammatory diet, consistent cross-training workouts, and a loving attitude.

Statistics Sources:

Statistics on Global Causes of Death, Ranked – https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/the-top-10-causes-of-death

Death Causes within US – https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

Top Causes of Death in UK – https://www.letsgetchecked.com/articles/top-5-causes-of-death-in-the-uk/

Greater Health Benefit from Exercise than Previously Reported – https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/11/study-shows-larger-health-benefit-from-physical-activity-than-previously-reported/

Australia Death Causes – https://www.australiawidefirstaid.com.au/resources/leading-causes-of-death

Leading Causes of Death in South Africa – https://businesstech.co.za/news/lifestyle/498579/leading-causes-of-death-in-south-africa-2/

Statistics on Diets and Sugar Consumption (by Country, Ranked) – https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/top-sugar-consuming-nations-in-the-world.html

Peter Attia on The Best Exercises for Longevity – https://youtu.be/92kYDVjX0G0

Listed as Developing Countries, South Africa and India – https://ideas.repec.org/p/pra/mprapa/80763.html – https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/zgwm4j6/revision/

Diets and Sugar in First-World versus Developing Countries – https://www.fao.org/3/x0513e/x0513e07.htm

Optimism Lowers Risk of Having Stroke – https://news.umich.edu/positive-thinking-optimism-lowers-risk-of-having-stroke/

Map Difference of Northern and Western Europe – https://globalindices.iupui.edu/environment/regions/northern-western-europe/index.html

What is Degenerative Disease? – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Degenerative_disease

Startling Health Study Statistics: 531,804 Participants from 17 Countries with a Follow-Up of 13.24 Years – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6207481/

Global Heart Disease – https://www.who.int/health-topics/cardiovascular-diseases

Statistics of Death by Unintentional Injuries – https://www.lhsfna.org/cdc-nearly-half-of-u-s-deaths-can-be-prevented/

Extensive Evidence Supports Relationship Between Diets and Cognitive Function – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6179018/

Sugar and Cancer – https://www.aicr.org/news/the-sugar-cancer-connection/

Statistics of Diets and Food Item Consumption Per Person – https://www.ers.usda.gov/data-products/ag-and-food-statistics-charting-the-essentials/food-availability-and-consumption/

Global Organization for Stress – http://www.gostress.com/

Medical Benefits of Positive Thinking – https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/27/well/live/positive-thinking-may-improve-health-and-extend-life.html

Positive Outcomes in Health Improvement and Medical Cost Reduction from Less Sugar – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5577881/

Average Sugar Consumption – https://www.dhhs.nh.gov/dphs/nhp/documents/sugar.pdf

Physical Inactivity in Over Fifty [Data] – https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/p0915-physical-activity.html