The start of each new year represents an opportunity for new beginnings and starting fresh, a chance to focus on opportunities and focus on the year ahead. For many, this means setting New Year’s resolutions to relinquish bad habits and start focusing on achieving more positive ones.
From eating healthier to exercising and losing weight, the most common resolutions involve personal health.
According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the prevalence of obesity in the United States was 39.8 percent and affected about 93.3 million adults in 2015-2016. Closer to home, as outlined in the 2018 Somerset County Community Health Needs Assessment, 61.9 percent of Somerset County residents are overweight or obese — with the percent of Somerset County residents reporting no leisure time activity between 2015-2016 trending upward from 15.8 percent in 2014 to 23.6 percent in 2016.
Given these high rates of obesity on both a national and local level, it is not surprising that focusing on one’s health becomes a priority at the start of each year. Factors contributing to being overweight or obese can include lack of regular physical activity, a poor diet and unhealthy eating habits — all behaviors that can be modified.
As the first month of 2019 draws to a close, it is not too late to focus on New Year’s resolutions involving a personal health journey — be it to keep the momentum going or to get started. According to Dr. Laura Micek-Galinat, Family Medicine Physician and Certified Culinary Medicine Specialist at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, “To see real health benefits, dietary improvements must be part of an overall lifestyle change.”
She offers these steps to living a healthier life:
- Drink lots of water
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Practice stress management
- Follow a healthy diet
- Don’t forget to laugh
- Be physically active
- Build social connections.
Healthier Somerset’s goal is to make Somerset County the healthiest county in New Jersey by engaging those who live and work in the county in active participation in good health habits, increasing access to choices that promote healthy lifestyles, and promoting policy changes that improve health.
Many of Healthier Somerset’s partners offer a variety of community programs and resources to help residents make their health a priority. Those services and programs include:
- Community nutrition programs through the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
- Meals-on-Wheels through the Somerset County Division of Senior Services
- Health and wellness programs through Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset
- Family-focused and wellness programs through emPoWER Somerset
- Food Bank Network of Somerset County pantries and distribution sites
- Community gardens and farmers markets
In addition, there are a variety of programs and services offered by The Obesity Society, the Greater Somerset Public Health Partnership, the Mayor’s Wellness Campaign, the Somerset County Business Partnership, the Somerset County Park Commission, the Somerset County Wellness Committee and the Somerset County YMCA.
To learn more about Healthier Somerset, visit www.healthiersomerset.org.
Melissa Feltmann is project manager for Healthier Somerset.