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Image: Carrot Rewards

Canadians love their rewards programs and loyalty points, which can be redeemed for everything from movie passes to airline tickets. This obsession with collecting points is now being leveraged to help make Canadians healthier.

A new mobile app developed by Social Change Rewards, with funding support from the B.C. and federal governments, uses the lure of points to encourage Canadians to participate in healthier lifestyles. Points can be earned by letting the app nudge you in the right direction, whether that means reminding you to go to the gym for a workout or alerting you to a healthy recipe worth trying. You can also earn points by taking quizzes or reading articles, making this app – appropriately called Carrot Rewards – a powerful educational tool.

Pretty much anything a user does with this app will earn points, which can be redeemed for groceries, travel, movies or merchandise at specific retailers.

Andreas Souvaliotis, co-founder and chief executive officer of Social Change Rewards, has a wealth of experience linking rewards programs to positive behaviour. In 2007 he created the niche loyalty program Green Rewards. This was purchased a year later by Air Miles owner LoyaltyOne and turned into Air Miles for Social Change, which used points to encourage energy conservation, transit use and the purchase of healthier foods.

The difference with Carrot Rewards is that it’s a publicly funded initiative, and the first of its kind. In addition to the federal and B.C. governments, partners include YMCA Canada, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, and the Canadian Diabetes Association.

“This new platform is a game changer for health promotion,” said David Sculthorpe, CEO of the Heart and Stroke Foundation. “It will have a tangible impact on the health of Canadians, and aligns with our mission to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery.”

The app will be available for download in British Columbia this fall, followed by a Canada-wide release in early 2016.

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