The challenge

Australia, like other western countries, is in the midst of an epidemic of preventable and modifiable lifestyle-related illness.

Chronic conditions and their risk factors are now commonplace and seen much earlier in life, even in childhood. Worse still, changes in our genes as a result of lifestyle choices can predispose us to conditions later in life and can be passed on when we have children.

It’s increasingly common for us to take medication to lower blood pressure, cholesterol or blood sugar without addressing the underlying causes of these conditions. And to accept being overweight, inactive, under-slept, stressed-out and generally below par as ‘normal’.

Conditions and
risk factors that
can have lifestyle
causes include...
(flip over)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • High blood sugar
  • Overweight & obesity
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Lung diseases
  • Kidney disease
  • Some cancers
  • Asthma
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Depression & anxiety
  • Dementia
  • If current trends continue, 3/4 of Australian adults and 1/3 of all children will be overweight or obese by 2020. Type 2 Diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer are on the increase, and with our ageing population, so is dementia.

    Our governments recognise the severity of the situation, but attempts to refocus the health system towards prevention, early intervention and self-management of healthcare have been dwarfed by the scale and velocity of the chronic illness and obesity epidemic. There is still much to be done at a policy level to address the obesogenic environment we live in.

    On an individual level, there is only one thing to be done. We are each personally responsible for creating a healthier future for ourselves and for our families. But without structured assistance, it can seem the hardest thing to do.

    “We can’t solve problems by using
    the same kind of thinking
    we used when we created them.”

    Albert Einstein

    The initiative

    The initiative is a social enterprise to fund, develop, trial and launch a ground-breaking online ‘comprehensive lifestyle change’ program into our health system, and into the social context of our everyday lives. It’s called ‘Open Health’ – an innovative approach to a modern world problem.

    It’s ground-breaking because the program combines the psychology of health behaviour change with communication technology in a more comprehensive, holistic and interactive way than has been attempted before. In short, we’re taking lifestyle change online and making it empowering, engaging and enjoyable.

    It’s innovative because the initiative is being powered by the community using technology like social media and crowd funding to demonstrate popular support for the Open Health concept. We believe that people want the tools to take charge of and improve their health and will help us make this happen.

    to a health & wellbeing
    You set your own goals and priorities in a personalised, holistic, 12-week online health improvement program

    The program is being developed right now at the University of Western Sydney, funded by donations from individuals and companies, grants and partnerships, but we need your help to be able to deliver the beta version for testing by the community in 2015. In addition to funds, we need champions to offer their skills, to help spread the word, and to volunteer to beta-test the program or to participate in the clinical trial.

    Open Health is a major project of the Lifestyle Medicine Foundation, a registered health promotion charity (donations over $2 are tax deductible), with the support of like-minded organisations, academics, researchers, public health professionals, doctors and allied health practitioners.

    Importantly, this initiative addresses a major gap in our healthcare system; providing a national, accessible, equitable, scalable and cost-effective lifestyle change program available to healthcare practitioners and their patients, the general public and as a workplace health and well-being program.

    Register your interest and we’ll keep you in the loop!

    What’s inside?


    & self-efficacy
    Lifestyle change starts with self-empowerment to take charge of our health and enhancing self-efficacy to achieve our goals.
    The longer we sit, the shorter we live. Movement is the key. Try walking, swimming, dancing, gardening, and perhaps even ‘exercise’.
    Diet &
    We often think we have a ‘good diet’, but can easily fall short of the nutritional requirements for physical, mental and emotional health.
    Excesses &
    Whether it’s sugar, salt and saturated fats, refined foods, smoking, or too much alcohol too often, it’s easy to get out of balance.
    Stress is a normal part of life but in our society, it’s well off the scale, resulting in low-level inflammation and reduced immune response.
    & exposures
    Ensuring we get enough sunlight is as important as reducing exposure to toxins found in pesticides, food packaging and pollution.
    Sleep debt
    & quality
    Sleep debt is rife in our ‘always on’ society and linked to a range of health problems. Sleep disorders are also common.
    Psychological tools include goal setting, reinforcement, readiness to change, positive psychology, happiness and self-esteem.
    Resilience comes from effective coping mechanisms and techniques to manage emotional strain, frustration, pain, fatigue or isolation.
    & community
    Humans thrive on social and community engagement, love and intimacy. Altruism (being of service) is also health enhancing.
    & purpose
    Connection with nature, culture and identity, and a sense of meaning and purpose are all important to health and well-being.
    Virtual peer
    group support
    Everyone’s needs and goals are different, but you will feel supported by a private, moderated virtual peer group to achieve lasting change.

    “The doctor of the future will give no medication, but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, diet and in the cause and prevention of disease.”

    Thomas A Edison

    Get involved

    Be part of something worthwhile, not just for yourself, but for your family, friends, workmates and the community. We need your support to make this happen and to start changing lives.

    Not sure how you can help? There are plenty of ways to get involved, like donating, volunteering, beta-testing the Open Health program when its ready, and helping spread the word.

    Register your interest and we’ll keep you in the loop.

    If you’ve got more to say, click here.

    We look forward to hearing from you!