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Expatriates may be able to improve their overall wellbeing by simply changing one bad habit, as research has shown this can result in a "domino effect" on other unhealthy lifestyle choices.
The study, which was undertaken by international healthcare experts at Northwestern Medicine and published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine, found people who reduce the amount of leisure time they spend sedentary typically reduce their intake of saturated fats and junk food.
This is because the two bad habits are closely linked, the investigation revealed.
Furthermore, the research indicated the best way to rehabilitate a "delinquent lifestyle" is to curtail the hours spent in front of computer and television screen while increasing the amount of fruit and vegetables consumed.
Professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and lead author of the study Bonnie Spring noted some people do not know how to change their unhealthy habits, nor do their doctors.
This is despite the fact they are aware their lifestyle choices are putting them at risk of cancer and heart disease, she remarked.
Some of the other ailments fatty food is linked to include type two diabetes and high blood pressure.
"Just making two lifestyle changes has a big overall effect and people don't get overwhelmed," the specialist asserted.
The investigation involved analysing the practices of 204 adults aged between 21 and 60 years old who had unhealthy habits.
Participants were paid to undertake one of four treatments, which were: increase levels of physical activity as well as fruit and vegetable intake, reduce the amount of sedentary leisure time and fat intake, eat more healthy food and minimise the amount of stationary relaxation, or curtail junk food intake and exercise more often.
When the research subjects stopped being paid, it was found they continued to improve their healthy lifestyle habits.
Furthermore, 86 per cent said they tried to maintain the changes once they had been made.
"We found people can make very large changes in a very short amount of time and maintain them pretty darn well," Professor Spring said, adding: "There was something about increasing fruits and vegetables that made them feel like they were capable of any of these changes."
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