Physical Health Statistics

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By Rebekah Pierce

Reviewed by Juliana Tamayo, MS, RDN - Last Updated

physical health statistics

When was the last time you really thought about your physical health? Unfortunately, too many of us neglect to prioritize our wellbeing until it’s too late. 

With so much emphasis placed on work, family, and social obligations, taking care of our bodies seems like just another item on an endless to-do list. 

But here’s the thing: the state of your physical health has a direct impact on every other aspect of your life. From your energy levels to your mental clarity, everything is connected. 

So, let’s dive into some eye-opening statistics that will hopefully inspire you to take your physical health seriously.

How Many People in the US Struggle With Physical Health?

Are you curious to know how many people in the United States are struggling with physical health? The answer is quite alarming. A large number of people in the US are living with poor physical health and the numbers are only increasing with time.

The importance of physical health cannot be overstated. Physical health is not just about being free from diseases, but it’s also about maintaining overall wellbeing. A healthy body increases our productivity, improves our mood, and enhances our ability to perform day-to-day activities efficiently. 

However, despite its importance, many people ignore their physical health, which often leads to diseases and serious health complications in the long run.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), one in every three adults in the US is obese. The obesity rate in children and young adults has tripled over the last few decades. In addition, 34 million adults in the US have diabetes, while another 88 million have what’s called prediabetes, a condition that increases the risk of developing diabetes. 

Furthermore, heart disease and cancer are the top two causes of death in the US, and both of these diseases are often linked to poor physical health.

There are various reasons behind the increase in poor physical health in the US. Some of these reasons include the lack of physical activity, poor dietary habits, environmental factors, genetics, and stress. 

The modern lifestyle often involves sitting for long hours in front of a computer or TV and eating unhealthy foods, leading to a sedentary lifestyle and poor dietary habits. These factors coupled with the increasing stress levels are significant contributors to poor physical health.

Physical Health

Physical Health Statistics: Highlights

  • More than 23 million Americans live in food deserts. 
  • Only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day. 
  • People who are not active enough have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to those who are active. 
  • 1 in 4 adults around the world do not meet the global recommended levels for physical activity.
  • In 2022, the age-adjusted death rate was 833 deaths per 100,000 people, which is nearly 14% higher than just a decade before.

People who are not active enough have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to those who are active. 

Source: World Health Organization

First up, let’s talk about the startling statistic from the World Health Organization: people who are not active enough have a 20% to 30% increased risk of death compared to those who are active. 

This might not come as a surprise to those who prioritize exercise and an active lifestyle, but for many, it’s a wake-up call. Even small amounts of physical activity can make a big difference in reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and other serious medical conditions. 

So, whether it’s taking a brisk walk during your lunch break or engaging in a regular exercise routine, it’s important to prioritize physical activity.

More than 23 million Americans live in food deserts. 

Source: RxResource

This means that they have limited access to fresh, healthy food due to a lack of grocery stores and farmers markets in their area. As a result, these individuals are more likely to rely on processed and unhealthy foods, leading to a range of health issues such as obesity and type 2 diabetes. 

If you find yourself living in a food desert, it’s important to get creative with your food choices. Consider growing your own produce or joining a community garden to ensure you have access to fresh, healthy options.

1 in 4 adults around the world do not meet the global recommended levels for physical activity.

Source: World Health Organization

This is a concerning statistic, as physical activity is crucial to overall health and wellbeing. Whether it’s due to a sedentary job or lack of motivation, it’s important to make an effort to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine. 

This might mean taking a fitness class, going for a jog, or simply going for a walk after dinner. The key is to find an activity that you enjoy and make it a regular part of your routine.

Only 1 in 3 children are physically active every day. 

Source: RxResource

With the rise of technology and sedentary lifestyles, it’s more important than ever to prioritize physical activity for our kids. This might mean encouraging them to play sports, organizing family hikes, or simply limiting screen time and encouraging outdoor play. 

By setting a positive example and prioritizing physical activity as a family, we can help our children develop healthy habits for life.

In 2022, the age-adjusted death rate was 833 deaths per 100,000 people, which is nearly 14% higher than just a decade before.

Source: USA Facts

What does this mean? Essentially, this number takes into account changes in the population’s age structure and provides a more accurate representation of the population’s risk of death. 

Although this may sound alarming, it’s crucial to note that the leading causes of death in the United States can be preventable with healthy lifestyle choices, such as regular exercise and a balanced diet.

Fewer than 5% of American adults participate in 30 minutes of physical activity each day, with just 1 in 3 adults receiving the recommended amount of physical activity each week.

Source: RxResource

This lack of exercise can contribute to numerous health problems, such as obesity, hypertension, and heart disease. Consequently, it’s essential to prioritize physical activity and make a conscious effort to move your body daily, whether through cardio, weightlifting, or other activities that you enjoy.

In 2021, around 8.6% of people in the US had no health insurance, with Texas having the highest percentage of uninsured people.

Source: USA Facts

Although it seems indirect, this statistic is also troubling, as it may prevent people from accessing necessary medical treatment. If you don’t have health insurance, consider researching options that may suit your financial situation and needs, such as Medicaid or Medicare.

Doctor's Office

The US death rate is highest in states like Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Kentucky, and West Virginia, and lowest in states like NY, Massachusetts, Hawaii, and California

Source: USA Facts

While these statistics can paint a picture of the overall health status of a population, it’s important to remember that individual lifestyle choices can significantly impact one’s health regardless of their location.

More than 600,000 people die of heart disease in the US each year.

Source: CDC

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the US. More than 600,000 people die each year from this condition. The risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, and obesity. 

However, many of these factors can be prevented or managed through lifestyle changes such as a healthier diet and regular exercise. It’s crucial to take care of your heart health to reduce your risk of heart disease.

American Indian/Alaska Native people are most likely to have no health insurance, at a rate of 19.6%.

Source: USA Facts

Without health insurance, an individual may not have access to medical care, which can result in untreated health problems and a lack of preventative care. This disparity highlights the importance of making healthcare accessible to all.

More than 80% of adults don’t meet the guidelines for aerobic and muscle strengthening activities. 

Source: RxResource

This statistic is alarming because physical activity is essential for maintaining a healthy weight, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, and increasing overall well-being. Simple lifestyle changes like taking a daily walk or incorporating strength training exercises into your routine can significantly impact your overall health.

The per capita price of healthcare each year is higher in the US than any other nation in the world.

Source: NPR

Despite this, the US lags behind other countries when it comes to healthcare outcomes such as life expectancy and infant mortality rates. This statistic points to the need for healthcare reform that prioritizes wellness and preventative care to reduce healthcare costs and improve the overall health of Americans.

The percentage of obese adults has doubled since the early 1970s.

Source: RxResource

This is a pretty shocking statistic, but what does it actually mean for you? Well, if you’re carrying extra weight, you could be at risk for a host of health issues like heart disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

The good news is that even small weight loss can have big health benefits! So, if you’re looking to shed a few pounds, start by making small, sustainable changes to your diet and activity level.

More than 100 million Americans suffer from prediabetes or diabetes.

Source: CDC

This chronic disease is characterized by high blood sugar levels and can lead to serious health issues like nerve damage, blindness, and kidney failure. If you think you might be at risk for diabetes, it’s worth talking to your doctor and getting screened. The good news is that diabetes is very manageable with the right tools and support!

About 95 million American adults have high cholesterol.

Source: CDC

High cholesterol, a waxy substance found in your blood, can increase your risk for heart disease and stroke. If you’re concerned about your cholesterol levels, talk to your doctor about getting a cholesterol screening and ways you can lower your levels through diet, exercise, and medication if necessary.

Adults in Alaska, Montana, Utah, and Vermont are more likely to be physically active than any other state, with Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisiana being the least active. 

Source: RxResource

This might be due to factors like weather, access to outdoor recreation, and cultural attitudes towards physical activity. No matter where you live, it’s important to make physical activity a priority. Even if you can’t get outside for a run, there are plenty of ways to move your body and stay active at home!

The average child spends more than seven and a half hours a day in front of a screen.

Source: RxResource

This includes TV, computers, tablets, and smartphones. While screens can be a valuable tool for education and entertainment, too much screen time can have negative effects on our physical and mental health. 

If you’re concerned about your own or your child’s screen time, try setting limits or finding alternative activities like reading, playing outside, or spending time with friends and family.

Children Watching TV

About 90% of Americans eat more sodium than what is recommended for a healthy diet. Reducing the amount of sodium we eat could save up to $20 billion a year in medical costs. 

Source: RxResource

This can lead to serious health issues like heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Unfortunately, many people don’t even know that they are consuming too much salt, as it is often hidden in processed foods. 

However, taking simple steps like reading food labels, avoiding processed foods, and cooking with herbs and spices instead of salt can make a significant difference in your health.

1 in 3 adults in the US has high blood pressure, but it’s estimated that only about 1 in 5 adults know they have it.

Source: CDC

High blood pressure can lead to serious health problems such as heart disease and stroke. The good news is that high blood pressure is very manageable, and if detected early, can be treated effectively. You can take preventative measures by reducing your salt and alcohol intake, staying physically active, and maintaining a healthy weight.

In poverty, around 45% of children are overweight or obese compared with 22% of children who live in households with incomes four times above poverty level.

Source: RxResource

Childhood obesity can lead to a multitude of chronic health conditions like high blood pressure and Type 2 diabetes. As parents, you can take preventative measures by encouraging physical activity and providing healthy options in meals. Simply by replacing sugary drinks with water or juice, and swapping out fast food with more home-cooked meals, can make a significant difference.

Being overweight or obese significantly increases your risk of certain types of cancer, such as breast, uterine, colon, or prostate.


Research has shown that fat cells produce hormones which can promote cancer cell growth, leading to an increased risk of cancer in overweight or obese individuals. 

Furthermore, excessive body fat can cause inflammation within the body, which has also been linked to the development of cancer. Therefore, it is important to maintain a healthy weight to reduce the risk of developing cancer.

The average daily calories per person has increased by about 600 calories from 1970 to 2008 alone. 

Source: RxResource

This increase in calorie intake can be attributed to our modern-day lifestyles and the availability of processed foods. This trend has led to an increase in the cases of overweight and obesity, which is a growing public health concern.

Almost 4 in 10 Americans are not just overweight, but morbidly obese – compared to just 4% of Japanese citizens.

Source: US News

Statistics show that almost 4 in 10 Americans are not just overweight, but morbidly obese, in contrast to just 4% of Japanese citizens, as reported by US News. This highlights the need for awareness and intervention by healthcare professionals and the government to tackle this growing epidemic of obesity.

Obesity causes the United States nearly $150 billion each year and accounts for up to 18% of our healthcare costs.

Source: RxResource

With fast food becoming more accessible and cheaper, it is no surprise that obesity rates have been increasing over time. It is essential to put more effort into healthy eating and going to the gym to improve your overall health.

A retired couple in the US needs around $295,000 for medical expenses during retirement.

Source: Fidelity Investments

Retirement is often seen as a time of relaxation and leisure. However, it is also a time of medical expenses, which might come as a shock to many. Recent studies from Fidelity Investments show that a retired couple needs around $295,000 for medical expenses during their retirement. 

With healthcare costs rising every year, it is crucial to start saving money from a young age to prepare yourself for the future.

Since the 1970s, the number of fast food restaurants in the United States has doubled.

Source: RxResource

This number ought to make you realize how convenient it is to grab fast food over cooking a healthy meal at home. Fast food is unhealthy for your body and can cause health issues such as obesity, diabetes, and heart diseases. 

Instead of going for the convenient option, try to cook easy and healthy meals at home. Not only will you save yourself some money, but you’ll also be taking care of your health.

Fast Food

Final Thoughts: Physical Health Statistics

Improving physical health is not an overnight process, but it’s essential to start taking steps towards it today. 

Start by making small lifestyle changes such as incorporating physical activity into your routine, cutting down on sugary and processed foods, and prioritizing your mental health. 

Join a gym, start a walking group, or sign up for a fitness class to incorporate physical activity into your routine. Incorporate wholesome foods such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables in your diet and drink plenty of water. Invest in your mental health by practicing stress-reducing activities such as yoga or meditation.

Remember – your body is your temple, and it’s your responsibility to take care of it. Through commitment and lifestyle modifications, optimal physical health is achievable and can positively impact your life in numerous ways. So, let’s prioritize our physical health and take action today!

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Rebekah Pierce

Rebekah Pierce is a professional writer specializing in a variety of niches, including health and fitness. Her unique blend of experience managing and owning a regenerative farm, along with a background working in both secondary and higher education, gives her the versatility needed to write about a variety of topics. She has a B.A. in English and a M.S.Ed. in Special Education. She's an avid runner, having completed multiple marathons and half marathons, and believes in the profound power of overall health, wellness, and good nutrition when it comes to changing lives!