Study: Fat Coffee-Drinking Smokers Believe They Have Excellent Health

November 15, 2002 ( - Even though nearly one in five adults in a recent study said they were in top-notch health, they probably aren't.

A recent study by Oxford Health Plans (OHP), a company health plan provider, found that 17% of respondents – dubbed “health status deniers” – believe they are in excellent health. However, according to the study, they tended to:

  • be at least 25 pounds overweight (55%)
  • smoke (31%)
  • drink three or more alcoholic beverages daily (21%)
  • drink four or more cups of coffee or tea daily (29%)
  • never exercise (36%).

They are also least likely to have a balanced breakfast (25%) and the most likely to eat fatty foods (24%), the survey said.

Finally, the “deniers” group:

  • sits at their desks all day (37%)
  • takes no breaks at work (41%)
  • is the most likely to lose sleep over work (18%).

“Employers need to somehow get the message to those in denial that these behaviors will negatively affect their health in the future,” Alan Muney, chief medical officer at Oxford, said in a statement. “If these people could just eliminate one or more of the bad behaviors, their health status would improve and the cost of medical claims would go down.”

Researchers divided respondents into four groups: the truly healthy (23% of respondents), the worried well (18%), a group that engaged in few bad behaviors but still worried about their health status, the deniers (17%), and the realists (32%), who perceived that their health wasn’t as good as the truly healthy.

The study covered 1,450 adults.