Five new apps to target alcohol abuse and obesity

Government funding leads to launch of new technologies to support patients

StepJockey is one of five new apps aimed at helping people with obesity and alcohol-related health problems

Small businesses have worked with the Government to develop innovative fat-busting and alcohol tracking smartphone apps.

The technologies, which are designed to help people beat obesity and alcohol abuse, are being developed by small businesses who won a share of a £2m innovation fund to come up with creative ideas on how to help people stay healthy.

Small businesses drive innovation in this country and through competitions like this one, we can support and inspire businesses to grow and help address the healthcare challenges facing the NHS

The winners include an app, Drink Coach, that people can use to track their drinking over an evening and get prompts on their phone reminding them to slow down. The latest version, to be launched next spring, will allow users to log any alcohol-related injuries or arguments and share their goals of cutting down drinking via social media.

The technology was developed by the Haringey Advisory Group on Alcohol (HAGA), which also on funding for Don’tbottleitup, a website where people can take a test about their drinking, generate a rating and then get basic alcohol advice and information on where to go if they need more support.

Another winning idea is a smartphone adventure game, The Walk, from Six to Start, which encourages players to walk 10,000 steps every day. The game features dynamic maps and a thriller storyline that you can only complete if you keep walking. The Walk launches later this month and in January will be included in a research project at King’s College Hospital examining how exercise can help to treat patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

Health Minister, Lord Howe, said: “We want to encourage innovation and these creative ideas will help people take action to improve their health and make a difference to their lives.

“Small businesses drive innovation in this country and through competitions like this one, we can support and inspire businesses to grow and help address the healthcare challenges facing the NHS.”

We want to encourage innovation and these creative ideas will help people take action to improve their health and make a difference to their lives

The other winning ideas include the StepJockey website and app from StepJockey, where people can rate and label parts of their physical environment for ‘calorie burn’. Starting with stairs, it encourages people to build exercise opportunities into their everyday lives.

Finally is the Chimp Shop app from Attention Retraining Technologies, which is still in development and uses psychological techniques to help players retrain their attention and behaviour to assist them in reducing their alcohol consumption.

Obesity and alcohol-related diseases cost the NHS more than £8billion each year and present a major public health challenge for society.

The Department of Health funded this latest competition through the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI), which helps small, innovative businesses to win government contracts, promoting economic growth from the SME sector at the same time as addressing public sector needs.

The Government wants to inspire other small businesses and point them towards the support that can help them grow. It will also reaffirm its commitment to small business with a statement later this month explaining how the Government will back them. This will set out a range of measures to continue helping budding entrepreneurs and existing businesses succeed.

Don’tbottleitup is a website where people can take a test about their drinking, generate a rating and then get basic alcohol advice and support

Companies