A proverb a day may make you healthier

01/17/05

It's time to add to our store of proverbs with new phrases that teach us how to be healthier, says a University of Toronto researcher.

In a paper published in the Dec. 2004 issue of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, Bernard Choi, a professor in the Department of Public Health Sciences, suggests that we need to create new science-based proverbs that reflect current information about healthy living. "People often remember proverbs although they may not remember tables of data on calories or metabolic rates," says Choi, whose current research interests include knowledge translation.

"Proverbs such as 'eat to live, not live to eat' were created by our great-grandparents," says Choi, "A few hundred years down the road, we will be the great-grandparents. Maybe we have the responsibility to create new health proverbs based on clinical trials, rather than observations that haven't been verified."

Choi collaborated on the paper with his wife, Anita Pak, and their teenage children, Jerome and Elaine. Together they worked at creating proverbs that reflect today's public health principles, providing advice on such things as smoking, maintaining a balanced diet and being physically active. Their modern proverbs include:

  • The more you smoke, the more you croak (smoking).
  • A tri-colour meal is a good deal (nutrition, encouraging you to eat red, yellow and green fruits and vegetables).
  • Seven days without exercise makes one weak (physical activity).

    "A proverb is usually a homely illustration of a great truth and is not meant to be a dry scientific statement," says Choi.

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    Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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    The life which is unexamined is not worth living.
    ~ Plato
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