Health Behaviors Tobacco Use Diet & Exercise Alcohol & Drug Use Sexual Activity Search Policies & Programs

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Why Do Health Behaviors Matter?

How people act affects their health in a direct way. Avoiding tobacco, drinking moderately, eating appropriately and exercising regularly all help us avoid a number of preventable chronic conditions. In addition, engaging in healthy practices, such as healthy food selection, responsible sports and recreation, and safe sex, can help us avoid unnecessary injury and illness.

These health factors are listed under Health Behaviors. However, they are also often influenced by the environments in which people live, work, and play. For example, good nutrition is dependent not only on an individual’s food selection but also, on the availability and cost of fruits and vegetables in a neighborhood. Likewise, exposure to second-hand smoke at a job site results from an individual’s work environment more than that individual’s behavior.

Tobacco Use

Tobacco use is the leading cause of preventable death in the United States. It affects not only those who choose to use tobacco, but also, people who live and work around tobacco. Tobacco use leads to cancer, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory disease; a number of other conditions and diseases are associated with tobacco use and exposure to secondhand smoke. 

Diet & Exercise

Good nutrition is essential for health beginning in the prenatal period and extending throughout life. Both the quantity and quality of consumption can impact health. Insufficient nutrition can harm growth and development while excessive consumption can lead to overweight, obesity, and numerous health complications. Along with poor diet, inadequate physical activity is a major cause of obesity, premature death, and a range of chronic conditions. A number of other conditions and diseases are associated with unhealthy diets and insufficient physical activity.

Alcohol & Drug Use

While there is some evidence that moderate drinking may reduce the risk of some diesases, heavy consumption can lead to violence, injury, liver disease, cancer, and premature death along with a number of other conditions and diseases.

Sexual Activity

High risk sexual practices can lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and unwanted pregnancies. Chlamydia and genital herpes rates are increasing in Wisconsin teens and adults, particularly among African-Americans and American Indians. A number of other conditions and diseases are associated with risky sexual behavior (e.g., unsafe sex).