The Deadliest Bad Habits in America, Ranked


If your vices seem harmless—you drink a little too much, can’t turn down a donut in office meetings, still smoke the occasional cigarette—you might want to take a look at the results from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation‘s analysis of risk factors. In their Global Burden of Disease, Injuries, and Risk Factor study from 2013, researchers discovered the largest preventable causes of early death using more than 50,000 different data sources. 

Think you might be in trouble? See the leading causes and see if you’re an offender. If you are, it’s time to make some changes. You don’t want to be the one responsible for offing yourself now, do you?

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1. Dietary Risks

Which do you think is more dangerous for the average American: Eating too few vegetables or eating too many sweets? If your gut instinct is to blame cake and eclairs, you’d have the right idea—but statistically speaking, you’d be wrong. Sure, diets that include a lot of red meat, sugary foods, and soda pop are the biggest contributors to relatively early deaths worldwide, but it’s the lack of fruits and vegetables that’s really doing us in.

The total number of deaths caused by dietary risks in the U.S. is 559,000.

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2. Tobacco Smoke

It’s 2016. If you’re still smoking—even with all we know about tobacco smoke’s detrimental effects on the human body—you’re clearly disregarding your own health. Make it your goal this year to quit for good.

The total number of deaths caused by tobacco smoke in the U.S. is 447,000.

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3. High Systolic Blood Pressure

You probably know high blood pressure is a major risk factor of heart attacks, stroke, and other heart problems. What you probably don’t know is you can have high blood pressure and not show or feel any symptoms until it’s too late. Make an appointment with your doctor every few years and follow a heart-healthy diet.

Also worth knowing: MocaCare just released a sleek, credit card–size monitor called The MocaHeart, which scans your thumb and, in just 25 seconds, reads your heart rate, blood oxygen, and blood flow—sending all the information to your smartphone.

The total number of deaths caused by high blood pressure in the U.S. is 421,000.

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4. High BMI

Doctors, healthcare providers, and personal trainers put a lot of weight (no pun intended) on body mass index, but it actually doesn’t reveal enough about the state of your health. A perfectly healthy pro linebacker, for example, will have the same BMI as an overweight person of the same height. But if you’re overweight or obese, that definitely increases your risk of heart attack and cardiovascular disease.

The total number of deaths caused by high BMI in the U.S. is 335,000.

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5. Diabetes

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2010, according to the American Diabetes Association, and No. 5 on this list for 2013. Since a shoddy diet and lazy lifestyle can trigger Type-2 diabetes, make an effort to do everything you can to combat insulin resistance (a condition associated with excess weight in which your body’s cells don’t use insulin the way it’s supposed to. Something you can start doing immediately (and you’ll enjoy): Take adavantage of the weekend to binge-sleep; it’ll counteract the increased risk for diabetes you experience when the work week eats up your beauty sleep. 

The total number of deaths caused by diabetes in the U.S. is 246,000.

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6. High Cholesterol

Though some people are predisposed to have high cholesterol, it’s more typically elevated by poor lifestyle factors. Ready to turn things around? For starters, get off your ass: Exercise can raise levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and lower levels of the “bad” LFL. What’s more, certain foods can lower bad cholesterol, too.

The total number of deaths caused by high cholesterol in the U.S. is 174,000.

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7. Alcohol and Drug Use

If you only smoke cigarettes when you’re drunk, and you only get drunk like twice a week, take a mintue to think about how bad that is for your health. Now consider this: If you smoke 10 cigarettes a day, that’s potentially 10 years off your life. E-cigarettes aren’t helping; while some users swear by them, research shows that e-cigs decrease your chances of quitting. And hookah is no better; it packs 25 times the amount of tar as one single cigarette (and that’s not even the half of it). That doesn’t mean you have to nix beer, wine, and the occassional cocktail altogether, but the smoking’s gotta go. Moderation is your goal—so is choosing the right beverage.

The total number of deaths caused by alcohol and drug use in the U.S. is 159,000.

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8. Low Physical Activity

If you’re reading this, you’re either in good health and shape, thinking about attaining better health a better body (good start!), looking to overhaul your fitness and well-being. Either way, that starts with moving more. Even if you work out for half an hour, five days a week, you’re not working out long enough for your heart to reap the benefits, according to a study published in the journal Circulation. Lucky for you, we’ve got a plan for every type of guy.

The total number of deaths caused by low physical activity in the U.S. is 145,000.

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