Americans resolve to tighten belts, quit smoking in 2011

Quitting smoking and tightening belts around their waists and on the household budget top the list of Americans' new year's resolutions for 2011.

Of the 44 percent of Americans who plan to make a new year's resolution, 17 percent said they wanted to kick the cigarette habit, 16 percent to lose weight, and 13 percent to spend less money, a poll published this week by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion found.

With the average cost of a pack of 20 cigarettes approaching the six-dollar mark in the United States, quitting smoking could take Americans some way toward achieving their goal of spending less, which rose from seventh place last year in the Marist poll to third place going into 2011.

According to calculations made by MSN Money, a 40-year-old who quits smoking and puts the savings into an independent retirement fund that earns nine percent a year could save nearly a quarter of a million dollars by the time they reach 70.

Losing weight could also help Americans save money, both for themselves and for the economy as a whole.

A report released in September by the Brookings Institution found that medical costs for obese adults were 147 billion dollars more than for healthy-weight adults.

Obesity also costs the United States in terms of lost productivity, absenteeism, disability and premature death. It could also be pushing up transportation costs because more fuel is needed to transport heavier passengers, for example.

Obesity affects not only a staggering one in every three US adults, but also one in five children.

Childhood obesity is draining billions of dollars from the US economy in medical costs and also saps children's well-being and affects their education; overweight kids tend to achieve less in school, according to reports published in 2010.

Four of the 17 new year's resolutions published by the American Academy of Pediatrics for kids aged five and older are related to eating better or being more active.

The battle against childhood obesity gained a useful ally in 2010, when First Lady Michelle Obama launched a high-profile campaign to help American children get fitter instead of fatter.

In December, President Barack Obama signed a law to expand a school lunch program for lower-income children and make the food healthier, which is aimed at bolstering his wife's campaign to curb childhood obesity.

The new law, which pledges 4.5 billion dollars over 10 years to child nutrition programs, will allow the Department of Agriculture to set nutrition guidelines for food sold in schools, including in vending machines.

"We're going to go from soda and candy bars to milk and granola bars," said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest, hailing the bill as "the best child nutrition bill that I've seen in 20 years in Washington."

While obese kids have the White House on their side, their parents can tap into a smart phone "app" for help in keeping their new year's resolutions.

Apps such as Lose It! and Calorie Counter for the iPhone, and Hungry and Weight Watchers WWDiary for Android phones, promise to help Americans lose weight.

The Quit Smoking! app, developed for the iPhone by an ex-smoker, is one of a bevy that aims to help people stub out their cigarettes once and for all, providing a toolbox of aids to would-be ex-smokers, including hypnosis and a calculator of the cost of smoking.

Of course, the apps are only as useful as their users are honest. Fudging the number of fudge brownies you've eaten when you input data into a weight loss app or the number of cigarettes puffed a day in smoking cessation apps will not help in the quest to stick to a 2011 resolution.

Last year, just six in 10 Americans who made a new year's resolution stuck to it for at least part of the year, according to Marist, which interviewed 1,029 adults in early December for its annual poll about new year's resolutions.

Other resolutions on this year's list included being a better person (10 percent), getting a better job (six percent), or getting politically involved or closer to God, both at one percent.

kdz/mdl/jm

 

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Solution Architect - Contract

    £500 - £600 per day: Recruitment Genius: A Senior Solution Architect is requir...

    360 Resourcing Solutions: Export Sales Coordinator

    £18k - 20k per year: 360 Resourcing Solutions: ROLE: Export Sales Coordinato...

    Recruitment Genius: B2B Telesales Executive - OTE £35,000+

    £20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The largest developer of mobile...

    SThree: Talent Acquisition Consultant

    £22500 - £27000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: Since our inception in 1986, STh...

    Day In a Page

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

    How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

    Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
    Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

    One day to find €1.6bn

    Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
    New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

    'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

    Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
    Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

    Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

    The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
    Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

    Historians map out untold LGBT histories

    Public are being asked to help improve the map
    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

    This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
    Paris Fashion Week

    Paris Fashion Week

    Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
    A year of the caliphate:

    Isis, a year of the caliphate

    Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
    Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

    Marks and Spencer

    Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
    'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

    'We haven't invaded France'

    Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
    Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

    Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

    The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
    7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

    Remembering 7/7 ten years on

    Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
    Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

    They’re here to help

    We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

    'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
    What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

    What exactly does 'one' mean?

    Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue