Americans Look to Get Their Bodies and Wallets in Shape with New Year’s Resolutions

NEW YORK, N.Y. – January 26, 2017 – January is coming to a close and we are officially one month into a new year. For many, this marks a time of change and fresh starts and for some, this comes in the form of New Year’s resolutions. Nearly two-thirds of Americans agree resolutions are a great way to set priorities for a New Year (65%). This year, nearly 6 in 10 adults say they have set a resolution for 2017 (59%). Millennials are considerably more likely than their older counterparts to make a resolution, with 8 in 10 saying they’ve set one (80% vs. 67% 35-44; 61% 45-54; 47% 55-64; 35% 65+).

The top resolutions among American adults all revolve around two main themes: health and money. Most commonly, adults are resolving to eat healthier (29%), save more money (25%), lose weight (24%), drink more water (21%), and/or pay down debt (17%). Slightly less common resolutions are to spend more time with family/friends (15%), become more organized (15%), travel more (15%), read more (14%), and/or improve relationships (14%).

These are some of the results of The Harris Poll® of 2,241 U.S. adults ages 18+ (including 1,536 21+ adults who drink several times a year or more, i.e., “regular drinkers”) surveyed online between January 12 and 16, 2017.

The gender divide

While men and women are equally likely to set any resolution this year, women are significantly more likely than men to say they’ve resolved to:

  • Eat healthier (33% vs. 23%);
  • Save more money (29% vs. 21%);
  • Lose weight (29% vs. 18%);
  • Pay down debt (19% vs. 14%);
  • Become more organized (17% vs. 12%); and,
  • Read more (16% vs. 12%).

Sticking to it or getting stuck?

While we see a majority making the resolution commitment, 55% of adults say setting New Year’s resolutions is a waste of time, a sentiment most common among those 65 and older (68%).

For a lot of resolution makers, the New Year can feel a lot like Groundhog Day: nearly half (48%) say they find themselves making the same resolutions year after year, a behavior most common among younger generations (54% 18-34; 58% 35-44; 42% 45-54; 40% 55-64; 37% 65+).

This isn’t too surprising considering that among those who made a 2017 resolution themselves, 58% agree they find it difficult to stick to them. Some, however, get by with a little help from their friends. Nearly 3 in 10 say they rely on their friends and family to help them stick to their resolutions. This is particularly true among younger generations (39% 18-34; 35% 35-44; 26% 45-54; 21% 55-64; 17% 65+) and men (38% vs. 25% women).

A dry new year?

While just 4% of those over the age of 21 say they made a resolution to drink less alcohol, a vast majority of those are taking concrete steps to lessen their intake. Nearly half (48%) say they plan to only drink on special occasions and one quarter each say they will only drink in social situations (26%), go out to bars less often (26%), and/or participate in a drinking hiatus, where they don’t drink alcohol for a specified period of time (25%).

Overall, 78% of drinking age adults agree that drinking hiatuses are a healthy activity. One such practice is to stop drinking for the month of January – also known as “dry January.” Regardless of resolutions set, 12% of regular drinkers say they’ve participated in dry January (either currently or in the past) and 8% are participating this year. Among this year’s participants, around 3 in 10 each say the month long hiatus is used to decrease their overall alcohol consumption for the rest of the year (32%) and they’re participating with friends or family (29%). Nearly one quarter say it’s not their only healthy action and they are participating in other healthy activities to complement their booze break (e.g., a fast, clean eating, a juice cleanse) (23%).


This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between January 12 and 16, 2017 among 2,241 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, The Harris Poll avoids the words “margin of error” as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Poll surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in our panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of The Harris Poll.

The Harris Poll® #5, January 26, 2017

By Allyssa Birth, Senior Research Analyst, The Harris Poll