Sunday, January 08, 2012

Health Poll Results Announced for 2012 New Year's Resolutions

So what's on your list of New Year's resolutions?

When the New Year's parties end, a lot of us are left with some tough promises to keep.

The latest NPR-Thomson Reuters Health Poll is revealing what Americans are making their New Year's resolutions.

The telephone poll of more than 3,000 adults across the country was conducted during the first half of December. The margin for error is plus or minus 1.8 percentage points. Click here to read the questions and complete results.

How much did people want to lose? Almost half of people with dieting in mind wanted to drop 10 to 29 pounds. About 21 percent wanted to shed between 30 and 49 pounds.

Fifty one percent of all respondents  make a resolution to exercise more. Thirty five percent pledge to lose weight and 9% of smokers  make a resolution to quit smoking.

Some people have had a lot of practice with their vows to do better. A little more than a third of people have resolved to lose weight at least once in the past five years. Among those who have promised themselves they'd shed a few pounds, 38 percent made that resolution five years in a row.

Making a resolution is the easy part. How well do people actually do? Overall, 57 percent of respondents who wanted to lose weight in the past told us they'd reached their goal.

Quitting smoking is more challenging. Among people who had vowed to quit smoking at least once in the past five years, only 36 percent said they had succeeded.

Now, we have to admit that we wondered how accurate people's reports of success on their goals might be. The folks at Practice Fusion, a supplier of electronic medical record systems for doctors' offices, gave us another way of looking at things.

The company combed through a sample of real-world data from doctors' records, including the weights of more than 21,000 patients measured in 2010 and again in 2011. There's a lot of people who are losing some weight. Overall, about 46 percent of people lost some weight. On average, it was about 7 pounds from one year to the next.

Now the Practice Fusion data are from people who saw their doctors regularly, and we don't know how that lines up with respondents to our poll. After looking at the poll's findings and his own company's data, you might not reach your ambitious New Year's health goal, but it's still worth a try. You may lose a little weight, which is better than none at all.

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