Willpower and Stress Are Main Obstacles

USA TODAY, October 2010 | Go to article overview

Willpower and Stress Are Main Obstacles


To solve the obesity problem, the American public is being asked for recommendations by an Administration task force chaired by the departments of Agriculture, Education, and Health and Human Services, although the answers being sought may be reflected in a poll conducted by the American Psychological Association, Arlington, Va.

Long-term behavior change is necessary to overcome the barriers to healthy living. According to the APA poll, 16% of adults report being very successful at engaging in health-related improvements such as losing weight (20%), starting a regular exercise program (15%), eating a healthier diet (10%), and reducing stress (seven percent) so far this year, although 88% who resolved to employ a health-related change say they have been at least somewhat successful at achieving it since January. Despite these efforts, 78% of those who made a health-related resolution say significant obstacles block them from achieving progress, such as willpower (33%), enacting changes alone (24%), and experiencing too much stress (20%).

"Lasting changes in lifestyle and behavior don't happen overnight. Willpower is a learned skill, not an inherent trait. We all have the capacity to develop skills to make changes last;' contends Katherine C. Nordal, executive director for Professional Practice at APA. …

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