Monday, September 21, 2009


Residents of Hawaii have a longer life expectancy than any other state in the United States, according to a study conducted by the Harvard University Initiative for Global Health and the Harvard School of Public Health. The average Hawaiian resident can expect to live 80 years and women live even longer averaging 83.2 years. Researchers on the project discovered that longevity is not influenced by personal income, inadequate health insurance, or violence but is somewhat influenced by chronic disease and injury.

The US National Center for Health Statistics shows that on average residents of Hawaii have a life span of 81.7 years, almost 4 years longer than residents on the US mainland have with their average life span of 78 years. The average life span of a person living in Hawaii is closer to that of a person living in Japan, which has the longest average life expectancy of any country in the world at 82.1 years.

One of the attractions to us of living in Hawaii is to be in a place where people are healthy and fit and live longer lives. But Hawaii, like the rest of the US, is having major increases in obesity among baby boomers so we wonder if the state will maintain its high longevity rates. The percentage of overweight adults in Hawaii increased from 29.7% in 1991 to 33.3% in 2005. Obesity rates increased during the same time period from 10.7% to 19.7%. Below is a chart showing how Hawaii County (the Big Island) compares with the state of Hawaii's overweight rate by age group. The rates of being overweight and obese in the baby boomer age range is dramatic compared with residents over 75 years of age.

Hawaii’s State Department of Health understands the importance of physical activity and healthy eating for reducing disease and early death. In 2008, Kolodziejski, Hirokawa, Benson, and Irwin prepared the Hawaii Physical Activity and Nutrition Surveillance Report 2008. Their report characterized the behaviors of adults in Hawaii by surveying how many adults met the national recommendations for physical exercise (moderate activity for 30 minutes on 5 or more days of the week or vigorous intensity activity for 20 or more minutes on 3 or more days of the week) and ate a healthy daily diet ( 5 or more fruits and vegetables a day). In the State of Hawaii, 50.8% of adults did the recommended physical exercise. Overall the percentage of Hawaii County residents that did the recommended exercise was a tiny bit higher than the state average, the highest percentage living in the Kona area. The report divided Hawaii County into four regions: North Hawaii in the northwest, Hilo area in the northeast, Puna and Ka’u in the southeast, and Kona in the southwest part of the island. Here is a percentage breakdown by the four regions in Hawaii County.

Differences in income were not found to be significant, but differences in race were. Japanese and Filipinos exercised the least and Native Hawaiians and Whites exercised the most. Older people exercised less than younger people.

In the State of Hawaii, 31.8% of adults ate the recommended diet. Overall the percentage of residents in Hawaii County that ate the recommended diet was a bit higher than the state average, the largest percentage living in Puna and Ka’u areas. Here is a breakdown for Hawaii County.

Differences in schooling and income were not found to be significant, but differences in age and race were. Japanese were significantly less likely than Whites to eat the recommended diet and a significantly higher percentage of adults (46.8%) in the 80+ group met the daily recommendations. The percentage of adults in the 70-79 age group (39.9%) that ate the recommended diet was significantly higher than the younger adults in the 20-59 age group. Though the Japanese were less likely to eat the recommended diet, Whites were significantly more likely to be obese than Japanese adults.

The study showed that disease-free adults reported higher rates of physical exercise and were significantly less likely to have diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension. Adults that ate the recommended diet were less likely to have diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, and were significantly less likely to report being overweight or obese. Hawaii residents older than 85 have already lived longer than the average life span for residents in the State of Hawaii and continue to eat more healthy than the rest of us.

Hawaii offers an abundance fresh produce and opportunities for outdoor activities. If we eat the recommended amounts of the fresh fruits and vegetables and exercise regularly we should be able to improve our health and have the opportunity to share in Hawaii’s renown long life span.


hawaii activities said...

I think the place with less pollution and with high botanical stuff will be the best place for human living. It was said in this blog that average life time of Hawaiians is higher. I totally agree!

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