Almost half of Australians are worried about the current state of their health, according to new figures commissioned by FebFast – with the biggest areas of concern being weight management, eating habits, overall health and time spent on social media.
These are among the concerns addressed by this year’s FebFast, as the campaign continues to evolve past its original premise of encouraging Australians to give up alcohol for a month. This year options include giving up alcohol, sugar, social media, fast food and smoking.
“We want to make FebFast the month of good health, so if we can help that along by setting out four or five of the most significant of our health concerns at both a personal and societal level, that’s a good thing,” says campaign director Josh Comer. “There’s now something for everybody.
“While alcohol is certainly a significant health issue for a lot of Australians, there are many who don’t really drink but have something in their lives that they could maybe do a little bit less of. We all have an unhealthy habit of some sort.
“Last year in 2014 we did alcohol and sugar, which were our two most popular. The others have been adjusted due to research and popular demand. We ask our audience what they’d most like to give up, and while of course that’s going to be slightly difficult for each individual there’s some pretty consistent things out there.”
Smoking is a new FebFast challenge for 2015, and Mr Comer says FebFast is working with Quit to deliver tools to help people quit smoking in the short term and for good.
“It’s important that after that 28 days we are providing support to continue a smoke-free life, whereas with the others it’s more about taking that time to think about your habits and understand your relationship with something like alcohol or sugar,” he explains.
“With smoking, you shouldn’t really go back to it.”
Pharmacies can play a role in helping people quit smoking for February and beyond, he says.
“Products like NRT are particularly important for people taking time off from something as hard to kick as a smoking habit. We take the approach that whatever you need to do to stay on the wagon is fine, and if pharmacies can provide that support, that’s great.
“As workplaces they can also get their people together and do it – it’s a great way of staying on track during the month, whatever you quit. I’d suggest you work out who some of your team leaders might be and sign up to take part – people have the most success in groups, whether it’s friends, people you live with, or colleagues.”
Pharmacies can also support customers and colleagues who are taking part in the dietary FebFasts: sugar and junk food.
“Last year, with the sugar fast, a lot of people lost weight and saved money, and experienced a general improvement in their health,” Mr Comer says. “I’m expecting we’ll see a lot of people improve the state of their diet, leading to weight loss.
“For the social media side, it’s more of a mental health benefit. People can expect to enjoy better sleep, hopefully less social anxiety and also potentially more productivity in the workplace!”