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Report: 1.2 million Pa. residents aren't healthy

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Apr 7, 2016 1:17 PM
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(Harrisburg) -- Nearly 14 percent of adults in Pennsylvania - about 1.2 million people - participate in three or more unhealthy behaviors, putting the state near the bottom of the U.S. 

The United Health Foundation, which released the data, includes smoking, drinking alcohol frequently, getting less than seven hours of sleep a night, and no physical exercise in the list.

So how do policy-makers get people to change their habits?

"One of the incentives is to make it more expensive to buy cigarettes and provide, sometimes by insurance companies, incentives and deductions for gym membership, for attending the gym," says Dr. Jonathan Foulds, a professor of public health sciences at Penn State College of Medicine in Hershey.

"The single most effective thing that would help with our budget woes and also help reduce smoking would be to add a dollar or two per pack on cigarettes."

But Penn State's Dr. Jennifer Kraschnewski says the solution is bit more tricky for people who are obese.

"Obesity is different because although smokers can hand over their pack of cigarettes, someone who struggles with their weight has to have a different relationship with food, but they still need to maintain that relationship with food," says Kraschnewski.

The United Health Foundation report also reveals Hispanics, and those who didn't finish high school are the most likely to engage in unhealthy behaviors.

Men, and those aged 18 to 44 also came in higher than the average.

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