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First posted on Health Populi on 01/04/2013

Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, Host of Health Populi

When it comes to taking on personal responsibility, the #1 New Year’s Resolution is to engage in fitness and exercise, cited by 43% of U.S. adults, followed by healthy eating, noted by 37% of people.

Other resolutions involving personal responsibility are

  • Family (26%)
  • Spirituality and faith (22%)
  • Managing personal finances (22%.

This survey was undertaken as part of Liberty Mutual’s The Responsibility Project (RP), which is taglined: “Explore what it means to do the right thing.” Launched in 2008, Liberty Mutual’s RP has been diving into the many aspects of daily living for which we, each of us, could take responsibility…including education, green living, financial planning, ethics, workplace and — my favorite subject — health & fitness.

Liberty Mutual also found that, while people generally do make resolutions at the start of the year, 57% believe that these self-pronouncements aren’t working. This doubt increases with age (and, I suppose, practical experience).

The poll was conducted online among 1,770 U.S> adults age 18-64 in September and October 2012.

Edelman 2012 Health Barometer Half Fail to Sustain Positive BehaviorHealth Populi’s Hot Points:  Our skater in the picture is working out on the ice getting some good exercise to usher in the New Year. But she knows, like the 57% of Americans polled by Liberty Mutual, that healthy resolutions are hard to keep.

We learned this in last year’s Edelman Health Barometer: at least 1 in 2 people who initiate a new and positive health behavior fail to sustain that behavior over time. Why? The circles below the bar in the chart tell the truth: there are many reasons, most notably that 1 in 3 people who lapse enjoy the behavior (THINK: eating food, smoking, drinking), another 1 in 5 are addicted or dependent, and another 1 in 5 don’t see the benefits of their well-intentioned actions soon enough.

These failure-factors are human, for sure. But they can be mitigated in many ways, by surrounding the health-seeking person with social networks to bolster group nudges, support and accountability; technologies such as sensor-laden devices to self-track, coupled with engaging interfaces for self-observation and text messages or emails to remind us (perhaps, cajole us?) to keep up our good work, and a data cloud that can store and relay our data to health coaches, caregivers/family and our health providers in a closed caring loop.

I’ll see more of these new-new and new-and-improved tools and applications next week in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show. Stay tuned to Health Populi all week when I’ll share with you what I’m seeing and learning.

Here’s to a healthy, resolution-keeping 2013 for all!