London: A government-backed trial of free fitness trackers linked to an app to offer incentives such as discount vouchers and cinema tickets to people who eat healthy and exercise more has been launched for the first time in the UK on Friday. The Better Health: Rewards app is being trialled in Wolverhampton in the West Midlands region of England, backed by 3 million pounds investment from the government.
The app is free to download and over 20 weeks, participants will collect points for each goal they complete, which they can exchange for rewards.
“The launch of the new Better Health: Rewards app today in Wolverhampton will help us see how we can empower people to make healthy changes to their lifestyle,” said UK Health Secretary Steve Barclay.
“The pilot is an opportunity to explore how we can further harness technology to support people to improve their physical health, prevent illnesses before they develop and help to ease pressure on the NHS [National Health Service]. I would encourage all adults in Wolverhampton to download the app today to improve their wellbeing and start earning exciting rewards,” he said.
The incentives will be available if users meet weekly challenges and improve their diet and physical activity behaviours.
The app also includes budget-friendly tips that support users to develop healthier habits, and challenges have been designed to be completed anywhere, without a gym membership.
“The government is investing 3 million pounds to help people in Wolverhampton lead healthier, happier lives. The Better Health: Rewards app aims to put people in control of their own health,” said UK Health Minister Neil O’Brien.
“It’s about making it easier for people to eat better and increase physical activity. If you live in Wolverhampton, please don’t hesitate to sign up,” he said.
National supermarkets including Sainsburys, ALDI, Morrisons, Tesco and Asda will be participating in the scheme so users can earn money off their food shop.
Hundreds of other rewards are also on offer, including vouchers and merchandise from retailers including Amazon, Argos, Primark, M&S, John Lewis and Currys and the option to exchange points for cinema tickets.
The pilot, being delivered by the UK’s Office for Health Improvement and Disparities in partnership with Wolverhampton City Council, has been designed with advice from the man behind global reward programmes such as Air Miles on flight journeys.
“Through the pilot we will have exciting and innovative partners on board which will help motivate people to want to earn incentives, but also should help them overcome barriers to making healthy decisions in future,” said Health Incentives Adviser Sir Keith Mills.
It is estimated that obesity costs the NHS 6.5 billion pounds annually and the latest pilot is part of a series of government measures to combat this serious health problem and save the state-funded health service billions over time.