The Four Horsemen of the Health Apocalypse

This study says that, statistically, you’re unhealthy… unless you’re one of the 2.7% of people that isn’t.

The title of this article is a bit dramatic, but if such a large number of the population is officially ‘unhealthy’, maybe we need a little drama. The four horsemen I’m referring to here are actually the four markers of health set by researchers at Oregon State University and the University of Mississippi. By their criteria:

Over 97% of Americans are considered unhealthy

How’s that for dramatic? The two universities recently did a study to determine the health of the average American, and based on the four markers here, they found that a mesely 2.7% of people were healthy; as in only 2.7% met all four parts of their scoring criteria. Their criteria is “associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease as well as many other health problems, such as cancer and type 2 diabetes” (

Here’s the criteria they count towards whether someone is healthy or not:



150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity a week was the minimum to pass this marker. That’s it. Nothing crazy, just a reasonable amount of activity that everyone should be able to meet.  The researchers measured participants activity with an accelerometer.

HOW TO MEET THIS MARKER: Go for a 30 minute jog or walk that gets your heart rate up, 5 days a week.


To pass this, you must be a non-smoker. Participants were given a blood test to determine if they were non-smokers.

HOW TO MEET THIS MARKER: Don’t smoke. If you’re a smoker, stop.

Health-Apocalypse-BMI-01-01BODY FAT

For this marker, you need to have a healthy body fat level. For this study, body fat was measured with X-ray absorptiometry rather than measurements using weight and height (which are good, but less accurate). Unless you can use  X-ray absorptiometry, opt for this body fat calculator (You’ll need a measuring tape).

HOW TO MEET THIS MARKER: If you’re a woman, have 10-31% body fat; if you’re a man, have 2-25% body  fat


The final marker asks that you eat a healthy diet, based on foods recommended by the USDA.

HOW TO MEET THIS MARKER: Follow the dietary guidelines listed here.

You can see how this could be an apocalyptic health scenario if so many Americans are considered unhealthy. The criteria above is not asking much of us, and not meeting all four can leave us open to some serious health risks down the road. Fortunately, being armed with preventative knowledge is key. Congrats if you already meet all four markers. If not, you know what to do to improve. If you want more information about the study, check it out here.


Let me know in the comments: Is this difficult criteria to meet or do you meet all four markers easily? Do you think there should be five or more markers of a ‘healthy lifestyle’ or is four enough?



The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and should not be considered any type of medical advice. The information provided in this website should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health condition or disease, and should not be substituted for professional care. Every human is biochemically different and what works for one person may not work for another. If you suspect or have a medical condition, consult an appropriate health care provider.


Sarah Soper

Registered Holistic Nutritionist with a passion for healthy food, sustainability, fitness, and non-toxic living.

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