Shopping vouchers for walking to school
Children will receive shopping vouchers and cinema tickets simply for walking to school under a scheme aimed at tackling childhood obesity thatcould be rolled out nationwide.
Nearly half of pupils (43 per cent) are driven to school by their parents, according to a poll by the campaign group Living Streets Photo: ALAMY
By StephenAdams, Medical Correspondent 9:00AM GMT 28 Nov 2010
Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, will unveil the walk-for-rewards initiative as part of the Coalition's white paper on public health onTuesday.
It will contain a raft of measures aimed at "nudging" people to take better care of themselves, after Mr Lansley concluded that "radical action" was needed to improve the nation's health.
Underthe scheme, pupils will be issued with electronic swipe cards that they use to touch receivers on lampposts between their home and school, in much the same way that Oystercards work on the capital'stransport network.
In a pilot scheme in Wimbledon, south west London, teenage girls received a £5 Topshop voucher if they walked to school eight times within a certain period, and an Odeon cinematicket for five days of walking.
As a result there was an 18 per cent increase in walking to school.
Police time to deal with what organisers termed "overcrowding" at bus stops and on buses alsodropped by almost half.
This led to a £24 public saving for every £1 invested in the scheme, according to official figures.
Tam Fry, of the National Obesity Forum, gave the idea a "cautiouswelcome".
"In principle it's a good idea, but it needs to be closely monitored," he said, advising that chools should set their pupils a "time limit" depending on distance.
"It needs to be a briskwalk - they've got to huff and puff," he said. "If they amble to school and stop at the corner shop to buy fizzy drinks, it's a waste of time, because then they would probably take in more calories...