It may not be the best, but it is the easiest heath goal for people to attain.
Get up off the couch and go buy some fruit and vegetables. According to a recently published study, that's the road to better health that's easiest for most people to take. A little financial incentive doesn't hurt either.
It's hardly news that Americans eat too much saturated fat, too little fruit and too few vegetables, sit too much and don't exercise nearly enough. But it would be news if someone found out to get them to change these habits for the better. And researchers at Northwestern University may have found the way.
As an incentive, the participants could earn $180 for meeting their goals for the two habits they were trying to improve during the first three (target) weeks of the study.
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The researchers looked at people with all four of these unhealthy habits who wanted to change them. And they tested which pair of behaviors--one dietary and one physical--was easiest for people to improve. The pairs were increase fruit/vegetables and sit less, increase fruit/vegetables and increase exercise, lower saturated fat and sit less, and lower saturated fat and increase exercise.
By far, people found it easier to decrease their couch time and increase their fruit and vegetable intake, making major changes within three weeks. These changes persisted, though not as strongly, for a full 20 weeks, the length of the study. As a bonus, people also lowered their saturated fat intake slightly.