WATCH ABOVE: A new app from the federal government will reward Canadians with various types of cashable points for living a more healthy lifestyle. The Carrot Rewards app will give Canadians new incentives to stay active and live healthier lifestyles when it is unveiled in the fall. Alan Carter has the story.
TORONTO — The federal government is unveiling a new app in the fall that will reward Canadians for making healthier lifestyle decisions.
The “Carrot Rewards” app aims to push Canadians to eat better, exercise more and live healthier lives, by rewarding them with various types of points.
“Canada is the first country in the world to create a national app, a national mobile platform for rewarding its citizens for healthier lives,” said Andreas Souvaliotis, Founder and CEO of Social Change Rewards, which is marketing the app for the government.
“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.”
Souvaliotis said the app is a more targeted of way of spreading a healthier message, while also cashing in on Canadians’ love for reward points programs.
The app was launched last week by Federal Minister of Health Rona Ambrose and the government is investing $5 million in the project, with the government of B.C. providing an additional $2.5 million.
The government is also partnering with Social Change Rewards, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, the Canadian Diabetes Association and YMCA Canada to create the app, which will be launched first in British Columbia this fall, and then will expand to other provinces and territories.
Laura Rosella, a Professor of Epidemiology at the University of Toronto, said the app could help Canadians get healthier but the ones who need it most might not be the most likely to use it.
“We know from other health apps that exist, it tends to be people who are already interested in their health. They are more likely to make behavioural changes or have already,” she said.
“I worry about people who are not using these apps as they are the types of people who might need disease prevention help most, so they may be left behind.”
Canadians will be able to 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 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 and every Canadian has a different type of points currency that they love,” said Souvaliotis.
“Every time you do anything with this app you’ll earn more points. So the idea is to encourage you to participate or encourage you to learn more about how to live a healthy life, and reward you every step of the way.”
Souvaliotis said the app will link to many of the existing rewards points programs and will give Canadians the choice of their favourite points program.
The government said in a statement that people engaged in a rewards program increased their physical activity by 110 per cent and were active 2.8 times per week, up from 1.3 times per week.
Souvaliotis said that due to strict privacy laws in Canada there would be no issue with the misuse of the data.
“There will not be sensitive health data we will never ask people to reveal to us what kind of cancer they had 10 years ago,” he said.
“It is data that has to do with health promotion and healthy behaviours.”
Souvaliotis said the government is funding the recruitment of the first 2 million Canadians on the app, in hopes that it will get more people on board throughout the country when it launches in September.