Why Are Diet and Exercise Important to Health?
Good nutrition is essential for health. Insufficient nutrition can hinder growth and development. Excessive calorie consumption, however, can lead to overweight and obesity, especially when paired with too little physical activity. Inadequate physical activity itself also contributes to increased risk of a number of conditions including coronary heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers .
While healthy food and regular exercise are important to health, half of adults and nearly 73% of high school students in the US do not meet the CDC’s recommended physical activity levels, and American adults walk less than adults in any other industrialized country . As of 2013, 29 million Americans lived in a food desert, without access to affordable, healthy food. Those with lower education levels, already at-risk for poor health outcomes, frequently live in food deserts .
More than two-thirds of all American adults and approximately 32% of children and adolescents are overweight or obese. Obesity is one of the biggest drivers of preventable chronic diseases in the US. Being overweight or obese increases the risk for many health conditions, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, hypertension, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia, liver disease, kidney disease, osteoarthritis, and respiratory problems .
Unhealthy food intake and insufficient exercise have economic impacts for individuals and communities. Current estimates for obesity-related health care costs in the US range from $147 billion to nearly $210 billion annually, and productivity losses due to obesity-related job absenteeism cost an additional $4 billion each year .
Increasing opportunities for exercise and access to healthy foods in neighborhoods, schools, and workplaces can help children and adults eat healthy meals and reach recommended daily physical activity levels.