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Making, keeping healthful New Year resolutions

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PHOTO: www.sigmalive.com

It is January, the first month of the New Year, 2020 – another time people make a list of resolutions on healthy living.

Some New Year resolutions revolve around weight loss, quit smoking, reduce drinking, exercising more, tourism, having enough sleep, rest and exploring the nicest meals in order to reduce their risk of developing life-threatening illnesses.

Although, New Year resolutions are an ancient tradition that continues to this day, some people do not successful in keep theirs.

A study from 1989 tracked 200 people living in Pennsylvania as they attempted to make changes based on New Year’s resolutions.

On average, the participants made 1.8 resolutions, most commonly, to stop smoking or lose weight. Less frequently, people pledged to improve relationships, and a surprisingly low 2.5 percent were hoping to control their drinking habits.

An impressive 77 percent managed to hold to their pledges for one week, but the success rate dropped to 19 percent over two years.

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Although that is a substantial drop out rate, it means that one in five of those participants achieved their goal.

Of the 77 percent successful resolvers, more than half slipped at least once, and, on average, people slipped 14 times across the two years.

Nigeria is not left out of those who do not keep their New Year resolutions, as experts in the health industry have said it is important that Nigerians live a healthy lifestyle, if they must improve life expectancy, as well as eliminate non-communicable diseases due to unhealthy eating habits.

Professor of Virology, Oyewale Tomori urged Nigerians to: “Keep good hygiene by washing their hands; take every opportunity to increase public awareness on disease prevention; be a loud voice for accountability and transparency in
public and private issues and finally fight for the upgrading and integration of laboratory services in Nigeria for better healthcare
delivery.”

President, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, (PSN), Mazi Sam Ohuabunwa, said Nigerians must avoid late dinners as much as is possible, avoid waking up too early to catch morning flights and spend more time in the presence of God.

President, Association of Psychiatrists in Nigeria (APN), Taiwo Lateef  Sheikh, on his part, said: “It is important to understand that
optimum mental well-being is not the mere absence of mental illness!

As such, my resolution is to engage in mental well-being promotion and mental illness prevention activities.”

However, several researches have highlighted the need for making healthy choices as part of ones new year resolution.

A research published in ecancermedicalscience revealed that hard-won healthy choices might lead to a total reduction of about one-third in cancer risk.
The Researchers led by Professor Peter Elwood of Cardiff University, United Kingdom (U.K.) examined preliminary data from the UK Biobank, a prospective study of half a million subjects.

They sorted through the data to identify healthy behaviours — which include not smoking, maintaining a low Body Mass Index (BMI), participating in regular physical activity, eating a healthy diet and limiting alcohol intake — and compared them to the risk of cancer over several years.

Together, the collection of healthy behaviors contributed to a total reduction of about one-third in cancer risk and possibly a greater reduction in cancer mortality.

Elwood said: “In our study each additional healthy behaviour was associated with a reduction of about eight per cent in cancer, independent of the effects of the other behaviours. The take-home message is that healthy behaviours can have a truly tangible benefit.”

The professor adds, “A healthy lifestyle has may benefits additional to cancer reduction — it costs nothing, has no undesirable side effects…. and is better than any pill!”

Another study published in the journal Sleep and reported by Medical News Today shows that weight loss due to dietary changes can improve sleep habits at any weight, making people feel more energetic and able to exercise.

According to the study, a change to a healthier diet rather than actual weight loss can make people feel more energetic and inclined to exercise.

Also, the research stated that, foods portrayed as healthy may lead to overeating and contribute to weight gain,

Researchers say foods portrayed as healthy are often viewed as being less filling, causing us to eat more.

In the Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, investigators found that if we perceive a certain food to be healthy, we are likely to consume more of it.

Also, previous studies have linked obesity with persistent sleepiness, lack of energy during the day and poor sleep quality, all of which can be successfully combatted with weight loss treatment.

But until now, researchers have known little about the link between excessive weight, poor dietary habits and sleep/wake abnormalities.

The study’s lead author, Isaac Perron, a PhD student in Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania, says: “Our findings suggest body weight is a less important factor than changes in weight for regulating sleepiness. […] If you are overweight and often feel tired, you may not need to lose all the weight to improve sleep, but rather just beginning to lose that excess weight may improve your sleep abnormalities and wake impairments.”

The authors suggest that dietary changes could make individuals start to feel more awake during the day and motivate them to live a healthier lifestyle.

Co-author Dr. Sigrid Veasey, a member of Penn’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology, hopes the hypothesis that a healthier diet can improve alertness and sleep patterns will be tested on humans, as she says it is “extremely important.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has released a list of age-specific resolutions, for kids from preschoolers to teenagers, that you can encourage them to try.

The group curated its lists after looking over the health surveillance advice that is usually offered to parents during yearly checkups for their children. Because they represent the “greatest hits” of advice and counseling, these resolution suggestions are also good reminders for parents.

For preschoolers, the AAP suggests simple habit-forming resolutions like being nice to other kids who look like they need a friend, cleaning up toys, helping to clear the table and washing their hands after going to the bathroom.

For kids between the ages of 5 and 12, the list is a little longer and more specific, from drinking enough water and being active to practicing safe habits online and reporting bullying.

For teens, the resolutions cover everything from eating enough fruit and avoiding drugs and alcohol to managing stress, practicing safe and healthy social habits and even volunteering.

One item on the lists for all age groups is talking to a parent or trusted adult when the child feels scared, lonely or confused or has to make a difficult decision. Some of the other resolutions were slightly tweaked to match the developmental level for each age group.

It’s a great idea to start having these conversations with children, even when they’re very young, said Dr. Gayle Schrier Smith, spokeswoman for the AAP.

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