With the holiday rush behind us, it’s New Year’s resolution season. Whether you are looking for a new diet or ways to organize your finances, UAB has news you can use to achieve your goals. Are you and your kids getting regular checkups? Are you scheduling age-appropriate health screenings? Are you gathering all the information you need to file your taxes? Look for advice from UAB experts to help the new year bring a new you.
Each year flashy trends in health and wellness emerge — from celebrity detox diets to the cure-alls for belly fat. University of Alabama at Birmingham experts weigh in with their recommendations for 2012.
Put down that stick of butter, y’all. News that celebrity chef Paula Deen has Type 2 diabetes will put prevention and management of the illness in the spotlight, says Beth Kitchin, Ph.D., UAB assistant professor of nutrition sciences.
“When it comes to diabetes, prevention is of utmost importance; so I think dietary behavior changes will become of interest now,” Kitchin says.
Deen’s new role as pharmaceutical spokeswoman also may lead to backlash against expensive treatments. “If you had to pay out of pocket for the drug she is endorsing, it would set you back $500 per month,” Kitchin says.
Back away from the fads and get back to basics. Healthier foods will be in more kitchens and on more plates, Kitchin says, and more people will be interested in learning to cook.
Head buried in the sand? Money buried in your yard? Only one of those options is financially fatal today.
An expert with the University of Alabama at Birmingham says interest rates are so low that buying a $1,000 two-month CD from the bank will only earn you 83 cents more than if you buried the same amount in your yard for two months. Andreas Rauterkus, Ph.D., assistant professor of finance with the UAB School of Business, says the best thing to do with your money in 2012 is buy a house.
“First-time home-buyer rates are around 3.8 percent for a 30-year mortgage, so if you can afford a $1,000 mortgage payment monthly for 30 years then you can buy a $250,000 home right now,” says Rauterkus. “It won’t get you much in New York City, but you can get quite a house for that in Birmingham and other affordable areas across the country.”
The biggest mistake people make is not doing their homework, says Lary Cowart, Ph.D., assistant professor of real estate and finance at the UAB School of Business. A certified real estate appraiser, he says the primary change in real estate during recent years is price, which has gone down. Cowart says people will research the obvious factors — school systems, convenience and neighborhood — but ignore details about the property and the transaction that lead to big problems.
If you’re already slipping away from those New Year’s resolutions, don’t fret. You’re not alone. People often make big plans for the 12 months ahead at the beginning of a new year but most never come to fruition. One University of Alabama at Birmingham clinical psychologist suggests one task that can make you the exception and your year successful.
“Our desire to do right by others often ends in a life that is overloaded with obligations, responsibilities, duties and ‘stuff,’” says Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., associate professor in the UAB School of Public Health. “Make 2012 the year you clean up your life by de-cluttering your mind — and reveal a happier you.”
Good mental health improves your well-being, which according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is associated with decreased risk of disease, illness and injury and increased longevity. And people with high levels of well-being are more productive at work and are more likely to contribute to their communities.
Sound great, but where do you start? With two lists, says Klapow.
Watch four-year old Sam Lollar play basketball or baseball in his backyard, and you’d think he was a pretty normal kid. He can nail a free throw or hit a pitched ball. You’d not guess he had vision problems. His parents never guessed it either… until he went to a vision, hearing and speech screening at his pre-school.
“My husband and my brother both had speech problems and needed speech therapy, so I was more concerned about issues that might come up with his speech than his vision,” said mother Jennifer Lollar. “Hearing? Well, like any kid he has selective hearing when it comes to his parents. It never crossed my mind that he could have a vision problem.”
But the tests showed that Sam had less than 20-40 vision in his right eye. University of Alabama at Birmingham pediatric ophthalmologist Martin Cogen, M.D., diagnosed Sam with amblyopia, or lazy eye.
“The important thing for parents, teachers and professionals to understand is that the child might look and act perfectly normal, there may be no visible sign that anything is wrong,” said Cogen. “As long as a child can see out of one eye they have no idea that they are missing anything. In other words, if you’ve never had it, you don’t miss it.”