#I4DA #Health

One of the main problems of today’s societies are cardiovascular diseases. Indeed, they are the main cause of death worlwide and are increasing at a very fast rate in low- and middle-income countries (1). A sedentary life and an unhealthy diet are two of the factors which increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, especially in genetically predisposed individuals. That’s why encouraging citizens to have healthy attitudes is a desirable action, as it would lessen the environmental (life style) effect on cardiovascular health.

In relation to The Big Think contest, three ways are proposed on three consecutive tweets to overcome this modern-world problem:

#1. Encouraging the use of stairs instead of lifts and escalators. Stairs and scalators are ubiquitous in every city: in the tube or train, in malls and supermarkets, in tall living buildings… People usually take them for comfort reasons instead of short stair or upward slope stretches, which would be better in terms of cardiovascular health. That’s why this is one of the ideas to improve citizen’s health. Two ways are considered:

  • The first one follows the track of Ireland’s plastic bag tax. It would involve a symbolic tax applied to people who were not in the obvious need to use of these devices, i.e. healthy young people not carrying heavy stuff, accompanied by an important marketing campaign aimed at making the population aware of the lack of need of their use and its unhealthiness.
  • The second one is a bit funnier, and also in the same sense than the following #I4DA #Health ideas. It would follow more of an incentive-directed approach. In other words, healthy  use of stairs instead instead of lifts and scalators would result for people to gain some sort of prize, for example a free 1/20 ticket for a healthy restaurant free menu which could be obtained halfway through the stairway.
#2. Encouraging walking instead of short public transport rides. Similarly to the last idea, this one would consist on a sort of game where people could get some prize by repeatedly following a healthy action, in this occasion by avoiding bus, tube or other public transport short rides. Several ways of tracking the healthy actions may be conceived, as position tracking through smartphones or  some means of “direct witnessing” as in the last stairway example.
#3. Encouraging healthy habits through an official smartphone life-game. Smartphones are very important to an increasing number of people, and tend to be used full-time: more and more people walk with their smartphone in their hand, using Facebook, Whatsapp and all other sort of apps. This initiative builds on the previous ones, as it would be a more generalized way to make people take the healthy line. It’s conceived as a game in which healthy actions would be given some points (proportionally to their level of healthiness or difficulty), so that at the end of a given period of time (week, month…) the winner (or top contestants) would receive some healthy prize.
(1). Mendis, S.; Puska, P.; Norrving, B.(editors) (2011), Global Atlas on cardiovascular disease prevention and controlISBN 978-92-4-156437-3


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