You’ve heard of “Dry January” – it’s proven a success to help people kickstart a new year without alcohol. But have you heard of DECHOX? It’s the new health campaign from British Heart Foundation. Did you know that the biggest killer of both men and women remains the wide array of heart diseases? BHF want people to understand that many are preventable and they’re encouraging you to DECHOX this March – give up chocolate for a month if you can bear it.

Heart Disease Statisticsbritish heart foundation

Heart diseases and of the cardiovascular systems (CVD) are responsible for some shocking statistics regarding hospital admissions, early deaths and preventable illnesses. Here is just a selection.

• Overall, CVDs are responsible for 26% of all deaths in the UK alone. That’s around 150,000 people. Another way of looking at this is 420 people every day or one person every 3 minutes
• 42,000 of these deaths from CVD are of people under the age of 75 – considered “early deaths”

A great many of these are preventable, based on lifestyle choices. The BHF has been credited with some amazing work in this area already. They claim that since their foundation in 1999, the number of deaths from heart disease has halved, that’s despite a growing population. Statins are now routinely used in the treatment of these conditions; their research has been fundamental, not just to treatments, but to campaigns of prevention in encouraging people to get more exercise and eat healthily. Furthermore, they have been at the forefront of pointing out social inequalities that lead to heart disease. Back in 1961, around 320,000 deaths each year were attributed to CVD.

We tend to think of cardiovascular disease as being more of a male health problem and perceive women as they more health-consciousness sex. This is not strictly true. Of the 7 million or so people living with heart disease, the ratio is split more or less 50-50.

How to DECHOX for March

Of course, chocolate is not the sole (or even major) cause of heart disease, but it does contain the foodstuffs and substances largely responsible for weight gain and heart disease – saturated fat and sugar.

In 2017, some 16,000 people agreed to DECHOX for March. Between them, they raised over £1m for research into heart disease. Each person vowed to give up anything chocolate or cocoa related treats. This included:

• Their favourite bars of chocolate (naturally), chocolatey treats and biscuits
• More indulgent snacks and desserts such as chocolate ice cream and cakes
• But also the things we don’t tend to think about – chocolate sprinkles and powdered cocoa on a cappuccino

The idea is to be mindful of the unhealthy snacks we consume, not to give them up completely in the long-run but cut back to the occasional treat.

The British Heart Foundation DECHOX for the Non-Chocolate Loverbritish heart foundation

If you don’t like or can’t eat chocolate for whatever reason, you can still take part. Instead of asking people to sponsor you for giving up chocolate, give up one of your own personal (unhealthy) vices. Other suggestions include removing sugar from your tea and coffee for a month, biscuits, cakes, sweets or anything else. The important thing is making a sacrifice for your health and asking others to sponsor you; the proceeds should then go to the British Heart Foundation and their important work into heart diseases.

They’re asking people to set up pages through donations site Just Giving, selecting BHF as the chosen charity and making it clear that you’re doing so for DECHOX, even if you’re giving up something else instead. What’s more, their website has a link to a DECHOX survival kit with lots of healthy recipe suggestions to fill the gap of your chocolate craving.