As reported on The World At One: BetterPoints smartphone app is getting people active in Ebbsfleet

Michael Grimes - 16 July 2018

Like many places in England, one of Ebbsfleet’s biggest challenges is obesity: 25% of children in Swanscombe are obese and adults in the area are 50% more likely to have diabetes than elsewhere in the country.

Ebbsfleet Garden City is being developed in Ebbsfleet as a Healthy New Town, a town that puts health and wellbeing first. The Healthy New Town Project wants to encourage people to be more physically active as a way of tackling the health problems they face, so they commissioned BetterPoints to help. The BetterPoints smartphone app awards points for doing exercise and people can spend those points on shopping vouchers or donate them to charity.

It’s working. The programme started at the end of March 2018 and runs for a year. After three months there were more than 300 active users (the six-month target is 500). Between them, they had run, walkedor cyclednearly 19,000 miles.

We tracked their activity against Public Health England’s activity level categories. 76% of ‘inactive’ people(less than 30 minutes of activity per week) made a positive improvement in their average performance and progressed into the ‘insufficiently active’ or ‘active’ categories. 50% of ‘insufficiently active’progressed to ‘active’.

Natasha has lived in Ebbsfleet with her fiancé and their little boy, Jake, for a year. She told the BBC’s World at One programme today that she saw the app promoted on Facebook.

‘What was really easy about it,’ she said, ‘was that you didn’t actually need to remember to say when you were going out for a walk because it automatically tracks all of the activity that you do. It shows you all of the journeys you’ve done.’

The Healthy New Town is one of 10 pilots established by NHS England. The project is a partnership delivered by Ebbsfleet Development Corporation and Dartford Gravesham and Swanley Clinical Commissioning Group, supported by Kent County Council.