Families could get supermarket discounts if they hit NHS exercise targets
21 AUGUST 2017 • 9:45PM
Families could get discounts on their supermarket shopping
if they hit weekly exercise “step targets” under radical NHS proposals.
Free bikes, sprinting tracks on pavements and outdoor public gyms are also proposed as part of efforts to drive out couch potato lifestyles and reward those who try to shape up.
The head of the health service said the schemes, which will be piloted in new towns, aimed to create a “design for life” which would persuade young and old out of sedentary habits.
Under the proposals, those who meet weekly activity targets, tracked on apps, could be offered discounts on weekly supermarket shopping and sports gear, free cinema tickets, or cut-price gym membership.
Housing developers will be asked to provide new homes with free bikes, in a bid to “cut car use and promote cycling”, health officials said.
The ideas are part of an NHS policy to create 10 “Healthy New Towns” which are piloting new ways to encourage more active living.
Health officials are examining schemes introduced by health insurers, which have given customers up to 25 per cent off their weekly Ocado shop if they hit monthly exercise targets.
Other initiatives under scrutiny include free cinema tickets for those who achieve 12,500 steps at least three days a week.
Mr Stevens said: “If there’s to be a much needed wave of new housebuilding across England, let’s “design-in” health from the start.”
“Everyone wins where children can walk to school and play safely outside. Everyone benefits when people can easily walk to a nearby shop and where neighbours can get to know and look out for each other,” he said.
One in five children starting primary school is obese or overweight, rising to one in three by the time they leave.
Smarter planning would help to “design-out” childhood obesity, said Mr Stevens, who said the ideas “point the way” to how new communities should be designed in future.
Health officials said some of the boldest ideas in discussion are in Cheshire, where discounts, free bikes with new homes and sprinting tracks are under disccussion.
A scheme in Oxfordshire has begun offering families the chance to win prizes such as Fitbits for competing in exercise challenges.
The sites enrolled in the programme so far cover more than 76,000 homes across England, in
Whitehill and Bordon in Hampshire, Cranbrook in Devon, a new development in Darlington, Barking Riverside in London, Halton Lea in Runcorn, Cheshire, Whyndyke Farm in Fylde, Lancashire, a new community in Bicester, Oxfordshire, Northstowe in Cambridgeshire, Ebbsfleet Garden City in Kent and Barton Park in Oxford.
All are drawing up detailed plans which attempt to encourage healthy lifestyles and improve access to healthcare and community support.
In Darlington, “smart homes” means the NHS will be able to use technology to monitor the health of older residents with health conditions.
And the Bicester scheme, Oxfordshire promise to offer 40 per cent green space, with pedestrian and cycle networks and allotments to grow food.
Walking levels have fallen by more than a third in three decades, with official statistics showing hte average person now walks for less than 10 minutes a day.
Health and fitness experts welcomed the ideas.
Steven Ward, chief executive of Ukactive aid: “The old approach to healthcare has left Britain lurching into a physical inactivity crisis which threatens to bankrupt the NHS.
“Modern living has stripped movement out of our daily lives, so it’s time to rip up the rulebook for town planning and embrace innovative solutions to get people back on their feet.”
Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, said: “If this works, it can be a win-win situation.”
“The incentive can bring in more business for firms taking part and motivate people to be healthier,” he said, suggesting that the cost of buying a bike for each home was “peanuts” for housing developers.
The NHS ideas under discussion:
Free bikes with all new homes
Discounted supermarket shopping in reward for achieving a weekly step count
Sprinting tracks marked out on “safe pavements” connected to public gyms via urban obstacle courses
Outdoor cinemas and community squares to encourage communities to socialise on foot
Cooking lessons for local residents