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Department of Health Offers Advice to Help Health Resolutions Succeed

Monday, January 22, 2007 | 06:00pm

Some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions often include improving health in some way. For those Tennesseans who promise to live more healthfully in 2007, the Department of Health offers advice to make those resolutions stick for a lifetime.

“New Year’s Resolutions are often about making lifestyle changes,” said Health Commissioner Kenneth S. Robinson, M.D. “Many Tennesseans know they need to live more healthfully, and the Department wants to help them carry out that goal.”

Weight Loss and Managing Diabetes

People who want to lose weight, get fit and eat right can receive immediate information for a personal meal plan by visiting http://www.mypyramid.gov. Just follow the simple directions by clicking on “My Pyramid Plan” and complete your individual information. A personal guide for healthy eating and maintaining a healthy weight is provided based on your age, sex and activity level. For moderate weight loss, a reduction of 500 calories per day should result in an average weight loss of one pound per week. Increased physical activity burns calories and speeds weight loss, so get moving! You can also choose an appropriate calorie level food plan to meet your needs by going to http://www.mypyramid.gov and clicking on “For Professionals” then “My Pyramid Results Downloads” under “Downloadable Print Materials for Consumers.” Talk with your doctor or Registered Dietitian to see what calorie level is right for you.

Healthful eating and regular physical activity are important for everyone, but are special concerns for people who live with diabetes. Additionally, even minimal weight loss may help improve diabetes management. Good nutrition and proper medical management, including blood glucose management, can help to reduce the risk of diabetes-related complications such as kidney and heart disease, stroke and blindness. If you are living with diabetes, check your blood sugar regularly and talk with your doctor and dietitian about your individual needs for nutrition, exercise and medications.

Tobacco Use Cessation

Less than 46 percent of Tennesseans have quit smoking, less than any other southeastern state. You may ask, “Why don’t thousands of Tennesseans who want to quit succeed in their attempt?” The answer is most people do not have a plan or know how to go about kicking the habit. Here’s the good news - help is available. To quit smoking or using any kind of tobacco, call the Tennessee Tobacco QuitLine at 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669). The QuitLine offers free, personalized and confidential quit services from a trained quit coach. The quit coach will guide the caller through the quitting process and provide ongoing support. This service is available to Tennessee residents in both English and Spanish. The service is also available for the deaf and hard-of-hearing at TTY: 1-877-559-3816.

Quitting smoking has immediate benefits. Within 20 minutes of giving up tobacco, elevated blood pressure and pulse decrease; in two days, nerve endings regenerate; in two weeks, circulation improves; in one to nine months fatigue and shortness of breath decrease; and in one year, the risk of a heart attack or stroke is cut in half.

“Some of the most significant health problems that the state faces stem from chronic diseases caused by obesity and smoking,” Robinson said. “By making a resolution this year to live healthier lives - to just do better in any way, Tennesseans are not only benefiting themselves and their families, but are also improving the health status of our state.”

Stopping Alcohol and Drug Abuse and Problem Gambling

Another component to healthful living in the New Year is changing behaviors related to alcohol and drug abuse and problem gambling. For some, alcohol and drug use and gambling may escalate to the disease of addiction. Regardless of the degree of severity, there is help available. The Tennessee REDLINE provides information and referral resources to those struggling with these conditions, their loved ones and health care professionals. Information, referrals and resources to help persons with these problems can be reached through the REDLINE at 1-800-889-9789 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The REDLINE also provides information and referrals for persons at risk for or already infected with HIV and for those who have developed AIDS.

Find a medical home by establishing a relationship with a qualified health care professional who can diagnose and manage chronic diseases such as diabetes. Primary care for uninsured adults can be accessed at more than half of the state’s health departments and provides diagnosis and treatment of acute and chronic illnesses. A list of local health departments is available on the Department of Health’s Web site at http://www2.state.tn.us/health/LocalDepts/index.html.

Resources are available online for making a lifestyle change in 2007 at http://www.tn.gov/health/.

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