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Most Americans Think It's Others Who Are Unhealthy
Date:2/16/2010

gave them a C or lower.

One disconnect is that in a land where a majority of people are overweight or obese, people tend to compare themselves favorably with their more overweight neighbors, explained Eva To, a registered dietician in White Plains, N.Y.

"Everything is relative," she said. "In America, everything is big. But if you put them in an Asian country, they will compare themselves to someone else."

Another problem seems to be that many respondents didn't know their basic health numbers - blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose level and other measures. Just 24 percent knew their body-mass index; 29 percent knew their blood glucose level; 33 percent knew their daily caloric intake; and only 36 percent knew their current cholesterol levels.

And yet a majority reported that keeping those numbers in a good range was key to good health. Ninety-five percent agreed that regular checkups with their physicians were important, even though 70 percent said they had taken actions to avoid their doctors, such as hoping their health problems would go away on their own or asking a friend for medical advice instead.

"It is important that patients communicate with their personal physicians to help manage their own health," said Dr. Scott Hayworth, president and CEO of Mount Kisco Medical Group in New York. "With this comes an obligation to be aware of how well they are following guidelines for exercise, diet and weight management."

It's a task that may be easier said than done, according to To.

"Americans are just not into prevention," she said. "If they are not sick, they think they are healthy. But most of the killers are silent diseases, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. We don't feel it, but they are killers all the same."

People also tend to rationalize their bad behavior by believing that the good things they do cancel out the negative. An extra slice
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