After a Christmas full of feasting, drinking and general overindulging, many of us welcome the start of January as an opportunity to make positive changes for our health and lifestyle.
But rather than attempting a punishing detox or buying the latest diet book, the message from PHE is to make simple changes to improve your health both now and for the future.
That’s why we have re-launched our How Are You? Quiz, part of the One You campaign, to encourage more people to take a few minutes to take stock and find out where they can take a little action to make a big difference to their health.
Getting this message out to people is more important than ever, with new analysis from PHE showing that 8 out of 10 people aged 40 to 60 either weigh too much, drink too much or don’t exercise enough.
It’s understandable that when people are busy with work, with families and with the daily grind, sometimes their own health is the least of their priorities.
But the fact is, unhealthy lifestyles are causing a rise in preventable diseases that are placing an ever-growing burden on our overstretched health services.
Currently 77% of men and 63% of women in middle age are overweight or obese. Obese adults are more than five times more likely to develop Type 2 diabetes than those who are a healthy weight and the diabetes rate among people aged 40-60 has doubled in the past 20 years.
The Global Burden of Disease study revealed that more than 60% of the top four health conditions contributing to premature death and ill health (heart disease, stroke, lung cancer and breast cancer) can be attributed to behavioural or a combination of behavioural and non-behavioural risks.
And the NHS spends more than £11 billion every year on treating illnesses caused by the effects of poor diet, inactivity, smoking and drinking alcohol.
One You aims to help adults reduce these lifestyle risks by addressing everyday habits and behaviours.
How can One You make a difference?
More than 1.7 million people have already taken the How Are You? quiz and, where appropriate, have been directed to download our apps like Couch to 5K, Alcohol Checker and Easy Meals. Nearly a quarter of a million people have subsequently downloaded Couch to 5K.
Now, we want to encourage more people to take time to consider their own health and make some positive changes in 2017.
One You aims to support people to do this across seven key behaviours:
- Moving more: Active people live longer and get ill less, and being active doesn’t have to mean doing intensive exercise – just walking every day can make a real difference.
- Drinking less: Many adults drink at levels that damage their health in the short and long-term, and reducing consumption by a little less can help to reduce health risks.
- Eating well: Most adults put on 0.2 kilos per year, which might not be noticeable in the short-term but can be damaging in the long-term, leading to obesity and associated health problems such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease.
- Being smoke free: For the 7 million adults in England who smoke, quitting remains the single biggest thing they can do to improve their health.
- Checking ourselves: To avoid ‘sleepwalking’ gradually into ill health, it is vital to take a small amount of time periodically to monitor our own health.
- Stressing less: Managing stress is important as it not only affects how you feel, think and behave, but also how your body works – from how well you sleep to your immune system.
- Sleeping better: Poor sleep is symptomatic of wider stress and is in itself a driver of poor health – it is also one of the most frequent searches on the NHS Choices website.
The How Are You quiz is one of a number of ways to check your health. The online Heart Age tool calculates your ‘heart age’ based on age and lifestyle, and people aged 40-74 are also eligible for a free NHS Health Check.
One You is aimed at people aged 40-60, but it is never too late to take action to improve your health – at any age.
In order to make sure our messages reach as many people as possible, we have teamed up with a number of commercial partners including Asda, Slimming World, Halfords and Boots that can help us raise awareness of One You in workplaces, in the community and on the high street.
The campaign is also being supported by pharmacies across the country, as well as local authorities and NHS organisations.
We’ve also seen a wide range of partner activity, from promoting One You, to motivating employees to be more active and even the complete rebranding of services in line with the campaign.
Our partnerships with local authorities and the NHS play a key role in the success of our marketing campaigns and there are a wide range of free resources online for partners to use – we hope everyone will join us in supporting more people to make healthier choices this year and for the future.