West Midlands city to work with DHSC on pilot of new tech platform
Residents of Wolverhampton will be the first in the country to be offered the chance to sign up for an app through which they can obtain cinema, shopping and restaurant vouchers in return for exercising and eating fruit and vegetables.
The city was one of several to express an interest in participating in piloting the technology; according to the government, it was chosen, in part, because a third of citizens are classed as being physically inactive and “a below-average number of adults” eat at least the government-recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables each day.
The Department of Health and Social Care first announced a month ago that it intended to launch an app which, using a free wrist-worn device issued to citizens, could track people’s diet and exercise habits – and reward them for making healthy lifestyle choices.
The government has set aside £3m to spend on the rewards to be delivered through the initiative, which forms part of a wider £100m programme designed to “help those living with obesity to move closer towards a healthier weight”. It claimed that £6bn is spent by the NHS each year on obesity-related illnesses.
The app is being delivered by specialist firm HeadUp Systems, which has now opened a sign-up process through Wulfrunians can register their interest in participating in the pilot, which will begin early next year and run for six months. Participants must be at least 18 years of age.
“We’re also looking to engage with a representative group of Wolverhampton residents to help shape and inform the pilot before it begins, so please let us know if you’d like to be part of our user engagement panel,” the registration page added.
Rewards available through the programme include free passes and vouchers for venues including gyms, theme parks, cinemas, restaurants, clothes shops and other retail outlets.
Councillor Ian Brookfield, leader of the City of Wolverhampton Council, said: “We are working hard to improve the overall health of everyone in Wolverhampton by providing innovative solutions which can help our residents get more active. We are already making significant progress in tackling physical inactivity, improving infrastructure and making environmental changes to enable people to be more active, and we are delighted to be working with the Department for Health and Social Care and HeadUp on this important pilot programme to see whether offering incentives can help people make positive changes to improve their health and wellbeing.”
Health and social care secretary Sajid Javid added: “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.”