Happy New Year 2011!

From my Healthy Living column in Moncton’s Times & Transcript.

A glance at last week’s Whatever column titles confirmed it if there ever was a need to doubt it– this is the time of the year during which many make their resolutions. I too have pulled out notebook paper during the week and jotted down goals for the new year– but in a different style than usual.

This year’s resolutions were a combination of my usual grandiose objectives meant to motivate and of short, specific, and simple ones meant to target the pesky habits I’ve picked up over the years. The latter were written in true scientific spirit; they included built-in operative definitions and measurable indicators for evaluation of their fulfillment.

My reason for adding this new breed of resolution to my list was based on an observation I made while reading a document entitled Young New Brunswickers, A Population Health Snapshot 2010 that was prepared by the New Brunswick Health Council (NBHC).

This snapshot report, which can be found at www.nbhc.ca, was the first of the kind to be prepared by the NBHC. Its raison d’être was to serve as a one-page wonder for indicating areas of improvement.

The report summarizes what was discovered by asking young New Brunswickers (defined as those aged 10 to 19) questions, through the intermediate of several surveys, pertaining to how they perceived their health, the health care they received, their behavior, their socioeconomic status, and their physical and social environments. The NBHC provides the answers to these questions in separate tables for each zone of New Brunswick in the snapshot document.

While all of the answers are interesting, the ones that relate to the topic of this article are those made in response to questions about behavior relating to nutrition and physical activity, which is often the target of new year’s resolutions. In zone 1, the zone that corresponds to the Moncton and Southeast NB region,

-28% of youth reported that they ate 5 or more fruits and vegetables daily

-49% said they ate breakfast daily

-56% drink sweetened non-nutritious beverages

-39% spend at least 90 minutes a day being physically active

-42% spend two hours or less each day engaged in sedentary activities.

Looking at these figures made me realize that many of us aren’t taking the little steps we need to take in our daily lives to be healthy, or, extrapolating rather largely, to be successful at any other major goal. In the words of Helen Lowrie Marshall, if you ”aim for a star and keep your sights high…(with) your feet on the ground, and your eyes on the sky, some day you are bound to win!”.

Happy new year 2011 everyone!

 

Originally published in the Times & Transcript on January 1st, 2011.

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