You may have sworn off statistics after suffering through your high-school math class, but some figures are too important to ignore. Here are 10 of the most troubling health stats for men that we’ve uncovered while doing research. Avoid becoming one of them, and you’ll have a much better shot at dodging disease.
1. You’re more likely to die of a drug overdose than a car accident. That is, if you’re between the ages of 25 and 64, according to research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drug overdose deaths are up 117 percent since 1999, and prescription drugs are usually to blame, the CDC says. Opioids and benzos—typically used to treat pain, anxiety, and insomnia—are by far the most common causes of accidental drug overdose. Take them as directed and for as short a period of time as possible, or you’re putting your life on the line, the CDC warns. (See why opioids are The Back Pain Pills That Doctors Won’t Recommend Anymore.)
2. You probably spend more time shopping than exercising. If you’re like the average guy, you spend 36 minutes every day buying stuff, and just 25 minutes moving your body, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Since physical activity is among your best defenses against heart disease and several types of cancer, figure on swapping a few of the minutes you spent on Amazon for more time in the gym.
3. A 20-ounce soda contains 15 to 18 teaspoons of sugar. That’s according to a report from the Harvard School of Public Health. Gatorade, Red Bull, and many drinks you buy in a bottle (besides milk or water) have roughly that amount of the sweet stuff or some sugary substitute. That amount of sugar once a day is enough to raise your diabetes risk by 26 percent and your heart attack risk by 20 percent, the Harvard report says.
4. The average man spends just 17 minutes a day on food prep and cleanup, per the most recent American Time Use Survey from the BLS. Every nutrition expert in America will tell you preparing your own meals with fresh ingredients is paramount to eating a healthy diet. If you want to stay slim and disease-free, steer clear of fast food and and spend a little more time fixing your own grub.
5. The average man watches more than 3 hours of TV a day, the BLS data show. A day! Television-viewing stats are thrown around so frequently that they may just bounce off your brain. But really think about that number: That’s almost one full day a week spent doing a completely unproductive activity. Shave your TV habit by just 60 minutes a day, and think of all you could accomplish with that extra hour.
6. More than 2 out of 3 men take less than 20 minutes to finish dinner, shows a study from Columbia University. Why does that matter? Guys who eat quickly are 84 percent more likely to be obese than slower-eating men. Also, it takes about 20 minutes for your stomach to alert your brain that it’s full, research shows. Slow down and enjoy your food, and you’ll eat less and feel just as satisfied.
7. At least 25 percent of men skip breakfast, according to data from the market research firm NPD Group. Study after study associates eating breakfast with slimmer waistlines. Not only does breakfast curb consumption later in the day—especially when it comes to sugary treats, shows a University of Missouri paper—but a morning meal may also signal to your body to dump fat, as opposed to storing it, research suggests. Aim for lots of protein, the Missouri study stresses. (Here’s How to Build a Better Breakfast.)
8. Men spend an average of 101 minutes a day driving, finds research from the University of California, Berekeley. So what? Your time behind the wheel—especially in traffic—is one of the most common sources of stress. In fact, city driving is as stressful as skydiving, shows a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study. Stress kneecaps your immune function, encourages the spread of cancer, and expands your waistline. That makes driving one of your unhealthiest habits. Consider biking or walking when you can.
9. One in 4 men between the ages of 25 and 44 smoke cigarettes, the CDC reports. Still. In 2014. When we know (and have known for decades) just how awful smoking is for our health. Discover how to Quit Smoking for Good.
10. About a quarter of all men have zero close friends to confide in, shows a Duke University study. Decades of sociological research show every new generation of American men is more friendless than the last, especially as middle age sets in. And that’s a big deal, because almost nothing is better for your health than strong social support, research shows. On the other hand, social isolation is roughly twice as bad for your life expectancy as obesity, finds a Brigham Young University study. You need at least two to three close friends for optimal health, a University of Oxford study suggests.