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Discovery Vitality launches intervention to intensify efforts to combat the alarming rise in obesity and associated healthcare costs
Discovery Vitality launches intervention to intensify efforts to combat the alarming rise in obesity and associated healthcare costs

Press release -

Introducing Vitality Weight Loss Rewards

Discovery announces Vitality Weight Loss Rewards – a behaviour-based intervention targeted at combating overweight and obesity, an epidemic that currently causes as many as 3.4 million deaths annually. Vitality Weight Loss Rewards uses behavioural economics principles and methods to help and reward participants – with a Body Mass Index (BMI) or waist circumference outside recommended ranges – to reach weight-loss goals in short, manageable cycles.

Dr Craig Nossel, Head of Vitality Wellness, says, “Obesity in South Africa is alarmingly high, and with almost 70% of women and 40% of men classified as obese or overweight, South Africa has the highest obesity rate in Sub-Saharan Africa. Rising obesity rates, which evidence demonstrates is the key cause of the pandemic of NCDs, are mainly caused by changes in our diet, work and leisure time. Specific drivers include energy-dense, nutrient-poor diets, physical inactivity, large portion sizes and irresponsible food advertising.“

“Not only is it bad for health, but it also has an immense impact on healthcare costs. In a Vitality study, we saw healthcare costs increased by more than R4 000 a year, when compared with the costs of people with a healthy body weight. There is certainly no quick-fix solution to this problem. However, with the implementation of national strategies such as the sugar tax, we are taking small steps towards addressing it as a nation. With Vitality Weight Loss Rewards, Vitality responds to this societal issue through an intervention that encourages more people to reach a healthier weight. The personalised goals and rewards aim to ultimately help them form habits that are good for their health and for healthy weight maintenance,” Nossel added.

Strongly rooted in specific behavioural economics concepts, Vitality expects to see positive results among participating Vitality members. Offering weight-management support, Vitality Weight Loss Rewards combines weight-tracking tools and guided access to dietitians, weight-management programmes such as Weight Watchers and Vitality Active Rewards. To encourage continued participation, extended discounts on healthy food options offered through Vitality’s HealthyFood benefit are part of the rewards.

“People often feel that it is expensive to live a healthy lifestyle or eat healthier foods. This is one of the key things we’re trying to address to help combat the increasing obesity trend. Our HealthyFood benefit, which offers refunds on healthy food options from Pick n Pay and Woolworths, has been hugely successful in nudging over 550 000 families toward healthier choices. By offering cash back and Vitality points for buying HealthyFood items, members tend to shift their behaviour to consume more fruit, vegetables and whole-grain foods and less high-sugar, high-salt foods, fried foods, and processed meats. Vitality Active Rewards with Apple Watch has also achieved incredible results, increasing physical activity among participants in SA by 81%. We are confident that the combination of these two powerful interventions incorporated in the design of Vitality Weight Loss Rewards can help drive dramatic behaviour change. We are excited to see the effects of this new intervention on weight management and health,” Nossel says.

Summary of Vitality Weigh Loss Rewards

Similar to Vitality Active Rewards, Vitality’s weight-loss intervention will run through smartphones with the Discovery app for members. Vitality Weight Loss Rewards will be recommended for specific people, aged 18 to 79, who fall into a qualifying range following Vitality-verified weigh in. Vitality members eligible to participate are those with a BMI greater or equal to 30 OR a BMI between 25 and 29.9 and a waist circumference greater or equal to 94 cm for males, and greater or equal to 80 cm for females.

Goal setting is personal and based on clinically significant and safe weight loss, and there are three levels of goals and rewards. During the initial 12-week cycle, Vitality points, and additional cash back on HealthyFood (up to 50% during the initial 12-week cycle once in a lifetime) form part of the goal tracking on the app. Vitality Weight Loss Rewards carries no additional costs, only that associated with a Vitality Health Check (paid for medical scheme members), a weigh in with the Vitality Wellness Network or a Vitality Fitness Assessment to start the journey.

“As a country, we have been mandated by the Department of Health to strengthen efforts to prevent and reduce obesity rates by 10% by 2020. With Vitality Weight Loss Rewards and its behaviour-change methods, we hope to see a similar impact on weight loss as we have with Vitality Active Rewards on activity levels. We are already seeing many of the vastly negative effects of the rising obesity trend. Now is the time for stricter national strategies and solutions design to address this global epidemic,” Nossel concluded.



Discovery information

About Discovery Limited

Discovery Limited is a South African-founded financial services organisation that operates in the healthcare, life assurance, short-term insurance, savings and investment products and wellness markets. Founded in 1992, Discovery was guided by a clear core purpose – to make people healthier and to enhance and protect their lives. Underpinning this core purpose is the belief that through innovation, Discovery can be a powerful market disruptor.

The company, with headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa, has expanded its operations globally and currently serves over 5 million clients across South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States, China, Singapore and Australia. Discovery recently partnered with Generali, a leading insurer in Europe, and has partnered with John Hancock in the US. These new partnerships will bring Discovery’s shared-value business model to protection industries in Europe and the US.

Vitality, Discovery’s wellness programme, is the world’s largest scientific, incentive-based wellness solution for individuals and corporates. The global Vitality membership base now exceeds three million lives in five markets.

Discovery is an authorised financial services provider and trades under the code “DSY” on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange. 

Follow us on Twitter @Discovery_SA

Press contacts

Felicity Hudson

Felicity Hudson

Press contact Head of Reputation Management Discovery Group 0115294514

Nthabiseng Chapeshamano

Press contact Senior Reputation Manager Healthcare & Sustainability

Munene Khoza

Press contact Senior Reputation Manager Vitality & Wellness

Zeenat Moorad

Press contact Senior Reputation Manager Banking & investments

Shanti Aboobaker

Press contact Reputation Manager Long and short term insurance

Gugu Yika

Press contact Reputation Management Consultant Vitality & Sponsorships 0115298083