A new app will be piloted in Wolverhampton which will offer incentives such as vouchers for shops, theme park passes, and cinema tickets for people who eat healthy and exercise more.
HeadUp Systems is leading the app pilot and adults in Wolverhampton will be eligible to register their interest and sign up by visiting their website. Pilot participants will be given wrist-worn devices and access to an app which will generate personalised health recommendations, such as increasing their step count or eating more fruit and vegetables.
Users will collect points for healthy behaviours which they will be able to cash in for rewards which could include discounts for cinema or theme park tickets, and clothes or food vouchers. As part of the government’s world-leading healthy weight strategy, the new scheme will be part of the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities’ (OHID) drive to use digital technology to improve physical health and prevent health conditions before they develop.
Health and Social Care Secretary, Sajid Javid said: "This pilot is an exciting opportunity to see how we can empower people to make healthy changes to their lifestyle and I would encourage all adults in Wolverhampton to come forward and register their interest. Taking part will help us better understand how rewards can help motivate people to make small adjustments to their daily lives that will have a lasting positive impact on their health.
"I want to make it easier for people to make healthy choices and the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities is driving forward our levelling up agenda for health across the country."
Obesity-related illnesses cost the NHS £6 billion a year and the scale of the challenge has been highlighted by COVID-19 disproportionately affecting people who are overweight. With almost two-thirds of adults in England living with excess weight or obesity, the programme will focus on incentives and rewards for healthy behaviours, including increasing physical activity and eating better to support people to live healthier lives.
Following expression of interests, Wolverhampton was chosen due to its large population size, with a third of residents classed as being physically inactive and a below average number of adults in the city eating their five-a-day. The City of Wolverhampton Council expressed an interest in hosting the pilot scheme to support its ongoing work and significant investment in encouraging its residents to live more healthy lives.
Public Health Minister, Maggie Throup, said: "I am looking forward to seeing how this pilot will help us better understand how small rewards can have a big impact in helping people make positive changes to their diet and physical activity. Wolverhampton is leading the way to develop innovative ways to ensure people can live healthier lives, for longer."
The pilot will launch in early 2022 and will run for 6 months.