Survey Finds Louisiana Residents Optimistic on Improving Individual Health; Struggle with Daily Routine, and Experience Cultural Obstacles

Baton Rouge, LA, Feb. 20, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A survey commissioned by the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System (FMOLHS) paints a complicated picture of how Louisiana residents view their health and happiness in the context of the state’s unique culture.

“This is a groundbreaking study of how Louisiana residents view health and their ability to improve it,” said Richard Vath, MD, Chief Executive Officer of the Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System. “It’s encouraging to see high levels of optimism and personal accountability. The clear opportunity for all of us – whether it be individuals, families, or health organizations like ours – is to create more supportive environments and a better understanding of how to improve everyday health and well-being within our wonderful culture.”

The results of the survey conducted online by The Harris Poll between July 17 – August 7, 2019, polled more than 2,000 people across the state providing a new and deeper understanding of Louisianans and the way they think about their health.

“Our physicians and clinical teams work every day to help improve the communities we serve,” Dr. Vath said. “This data gives us important insight into how people feel about their ability to live a happy, healthy life and what might be holding them back.”

A majority of Louisianan adults (74%) rate their overall health as excellent or good and most agree that, in general, people in Louisiana are happy (82%). However, while Louisianans are positive about their own health, only one-third (34%) agree that Louisianans are healthy, and more than half of Louisianans say none of their friends (53%) or family (55%) consistently exercise. Further, only 33% view Louisianan culture as being a culture of health, and 60% agree that it is hard to enjoy Louisianan culture and be healthy at the same time.

People of Louisiana Don’t Know Where to Start to Improve Health
The majority of Louisianans believe they are able to control their health (86%) and say they are making progress toward improving their health (85%). However, while the study indicates that 94% of Louisianans agree that even small changes in behavior can make a big impact on how a person feels physically and mentally, it also shows that it is not always easy for Louisianans to start healthy habits:

  • 63% say being healthy means having to make big lifestyle changes
  • Only a little over half of Louisianans say they eat healthy foods (68%) or exercise (59%) at least a few times a week
  • Around a third of Louisianans (32%) say when it comes to being healthy, they don’t know where to start
  • More than two in five (44%) say building even small, positive habits into their lives can be difficult for them
  • About one-third of Louisianans (32%) say being healthy feels out of reach to them
  • Lack of personal motivation (33%) is the most commonly reported barrier to Louisianans participating in healthy activities

“While the survey shows that some Louisianans may not know where to begin improving their own health, that’s where healthcare organizations like ours can step in to partner with people to show that small steps can lead to big changes,” said Dr. Vath.  

Louisianans Need Help with “Health Esteem”
In order to paint a full picture of health – beyond just physical and even mental health – the survey assessed Louisianans’ “Health Esteem” and its impact. Health Esteem is how someone’s everyday mindset, routine, and influences affect how they feel about their overall health. According to the study, Louisianans currently rate their Health Esteem (69%) lower than their mental health (75%), overall health (74%), and physical health (70%).

There is also evidence in the survey data that those who rate their Health Esteem positively are more likely to make impactful health choices such as eating healthy foods (76% vs. 51%) or exercising (68% vs. 40%) at least a few times a week compared to those who rate their health esteem as only poor or fair.

Divides Exist Among Younger Populations, Lower Income Groups
Those aged 18-34 experience higher social and knowledge barriers to participating in healthy activities compared to older demographics. As compared to older populations, younger Louisianans are more likely to say they don’t know where to start with healthy behaviors (27%), that they lack healthy food choices where they live (19%), and that they have a lack of knowledge around healthy activities (17%).

Further, lower income groups (<$50K) also reported additional barriers – such as feeling that cannot afford to live a healthy lifestyle. While nearly two-in-five Louisianans (37%) reported this hurdle, it was even more likely among lower income groups (49%) and younger populations (50% of Louisianans aged 18-34).

Additional information regarding the study, including an executive summary, can be found at

Survey Methods
The Harris Poll conducted the survey online on behalf of Franciscan Missionaries of Our Lady Health System, within the United States from July 17 – August 7, 2019, among a total of 2,004 Louisiana residents, aged 18 years or older. Figures for age by gender, education, income, race/ethnicity, household size, marital status, employment status, and region were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population.

Visit for genuinely fun, surprising and realistic ways to be healthier and happier that go beyond traditional diet and exercise. Follow @MyHealthEsteem on Instagram for everyday tips on how to give your Health Esteem a boost.



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