Moving the needle on Louisiana’s health statistics, which typically rank near the bottom of the nation on key indicators such as incidence of obesity and heart disease, is going to require vigorously supported public health programs. Continuing cuts to Louisiana’s state health budget don’t support that goal.

But improving health outcomes for Louisiana residents also requires residents to take individual responsibility for leading healthier lifestyles. We welcome a suggestion from Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein that the state’s residents make healthier living a part of their New Year’s resolutions.

“Many of us make resolutions each January, then don’t follow through,” Greenstein said. “New Year’s Day is a great starting point for change, but that’s only one day. Making a commitment to own your own health is a fundamental lifestyle change, and there are small steps we can all take to get started. If you smoke, quit. If you don’t exercise, start. If you eat too much unhealthy food, add more fruits and vegetables. Think about what you can do to get and stay healthy for life, and make that your ultimate resolution.”

Greenstein’s advice is worth heeding — in January, or any other month of the year.