A lack of time and rising costs are obstacles to Americans getting healthy, according to Amway‘s Global Wellness Index.

This project joins a growing roster of “indices” that seek to measure Americans’ health and wellbeing. One example in this space is the Gallup-Healthways Index that I wrote about here in Health Populi on March 13, 2008.
This survey polled the wellness opinions of 15,035 Americans in July 2008.

While most Americans (93%) intend to make healthy choices everyday, 47% claim to struggle with living well. 21% say it’s the costs of a balanced diet that keeps them from achieving optimal health; 39% say they have no time to “live a healthy lifestyle.”

The economy is playing a role in peoples’ healthy lifestyle decisions, at least in Americans’ perceptions. 42% of Americans say the economy is having a negative impact on their wellness choices in the current economic climate.

The key barriers to healthy daily living are getting enough exercise (cited by 38% of Americans), getting enough sleep (34%), and eating a well-balanced diet (25%).

The Global Wellness Index is a joint effort between Amway and the YMCA, which is kicking off the America On the Move week beginning 20th September 2008. There’s a lot more on the Inspire Wellness website featuring events by state, and more data on the Index. The Y has been involved in physical fitness since its inception; its latest approach is codified in Activate America, with the objective of motivating and promoting “health seeking” behavior among Americans of all ages.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: The downturn in the U.S. economy is having a deleterious impact on Americans’ health behaviors, at least as citizens perceive their behavior to be ‘bad.’ The wellness choices among the unemployed are reportedly worse than on the employed or retired. In addition, this survey found that current economic conditions are negatively affecting wellness choices of 51% of non-working parents.

Based on this fact, an intriguing finding in this survey is that 1 in 3 Americans say that Presidential candidates’ positions on personal wellness will influence how they vote this election (Mike Huckabee, who had been running as a Republican presidential hopeful, has a personal story and visible position on this issue).

While people might blame politicians, the economy, and that catch-all category of “stress” for their lack of wellness decisions, one glaring piece of data from this survey stands out: 4% of Americans polled perceived themselves as obese. However, the Centers for Disease Control puts the figure at over 33% of American citizens.

This cognitive dissonance reminds of the post-Walmartian vision presented by Disney-Pixar’s Wall-E. In the future, when a monopoly called Big-N-Large (BNL) must vacate planet Earth. They live on a spacecraft in obese splendor, every one of their needs served from their hoverchairs (pictured at left).