According to Andreas Souvaliotis (Founder and CEO of Social Change Rewards), Canada is the first country in the world to create a national app for rewarding its citizens for healthier lives. Based on Statistics Canada, 26.2% of men are considered obese compared with 24.6% of women in Canada. Things are not much better when we examine obesity in Canadian children where 25% of boys and 24% of girls are overweight or obese. Our performance in terms of obesity rates is one of the worse of the developing world.
It is clear that by establishing a new program that will reduce the obesity rate of the country, the federal government is doing the right thing. According to Mr. Souvaliotis:
“The most important thing we can do in order to reduce our healthcare costs is to encourage Canadians to live healthier lives and the only way we’ve been able to do it until now as a nation is through advertising.”
The idea behind Carrot Rewards is simple. Canadians will download the app and receive their choice of loyalty points for engaging in specific healthy activities that target the common risk factors associated with maintaining healthy weights and combating chronic diseases. The details regarding the "specific healthy activities" and the "chronic diseases" have not been fully provided yet, but consultation with organizations such as the Canadian Diabetes Association and the Heart and Stroke Foundation have taken place, so we can only expect good things.
“The choice of points will be up to you. So when you install this app on your phone, it will actually give you the option of choosing your favourite points and every Canadian has a different type of points currency that they love,” said Souvaliotis.
I think that the idea behind this program is clever because Canadians love "point programs", so it can be a successful strategy. I only hope that the government will not stop there. I would love to see other initiative be implemented. Obesity is a big problem that needs to be attacked from different angles. Carrot Rewards is good, but we also need to use other ideas. For example, we need to improve labeling on food and commercial drinks to help people make healthy choices. We also need to encourage restaurants and other similar businesses to include calorie information on their menus so that people can make healthy choices. Finally, the government needs to use the tax system to promote physical activity in adults.