Strangers to ourselves: Survey reveals how little Americans know about the human body

Can you name your blood type? If not, have no fear — you’re in the majority, new research shows.

NEW YORK — Do you know your blood type? If the answer to that question is yes you’re in rare company, apparently. A recent survey asked 2,000 Americans about their understanding of the human body and 35% couldn’t even name their blood type.

That’s not all; 75% admit they didn’t even know that there are four different blood groups. Just 10% are aware that O-negative is the universal blood type. Another two-thirds say it’s news to them that the heart contains four valves; and only a third understand that a “fever” is when “the body temperature goes outside its normal range.”

The survey, commissioned by USANA, also asked respondents to name the average human body temperature (98.6 degrees). Incredibly, just one in three were able to do so.

The human body: More alien to us than we realized?

These findings, of course, are quite shocking enough on their own. Perhaps even more unbelievable, however, is that 80% of respondents actually consider themselves knowledgable about the inner workings of the human body.

What about the difference between a liver and a kidney? Nearly three in 10 respondents (29%) misidentified the two organs. In fact, 33% don’t know that the human body contains two kidneys. Somehow, 20% actually believe that we’re all walking around with three kidneys.

Similarly, when participants were asked about the human body’s detox system, many wrongly guessed that the lungs (30%), heart (21%), or bones (19%) are involved.


“We have so much going on in our lives, we sometimes forget that our health should come first, and for a lot of us, our high school anatomy classes were ages ago. So I’m not too surprised by the fact that a lot of people aren’t well-versed in the mechanics of the body and nutrition,” comments Dr. Rob Sinnott, Chief Science Officer for USANA. “But with everything happening in the world right now, it’s as good of time as ever to start taking your health seriously and learning about your body and how it works.”

Interest in health versus action

Regarding nutrition, 86% consider themselves well versed, but 47% also want to learn more on the subject.

Many others have a whole lot to learn: less than half could name the recommended daily amount of fiber (25g-30g). Another 27% aren’t taking any vitamins regularly, yet 75% also believe vitamins are “vital to filling nutritional gaps.”

So, it’s very clear that most Americans really need a refresher on their bodies and how to stay healthy. On that note, 46% want to learn more about mental health; 38% are interested in cardiology; 32% want to know more about reproductive health; and 27% want to look into chiropractics.

In the meantime, though, where are Americans turning to for health and medical advice? Many (60%) see a doctor, but 50% also admit they often check the internet before seeing a professional. The average American only waits six hours from the development of a new symptom before logging onto Google.

Oddly, respondents were asked about the top places they’ll usually do their searching medical advice. The most common answer? In bed (59%). That’s followed by at the office (46%), in the car (36%), bathroom (35), kitchen (34%), and at a coffee shop (27%).

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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About the Author

John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

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