Innovative strategies targeting obesity and non-communicable diseases in South Africa: what can we learn from the private healthcare sector?

Lambert, E. V. and Kolbe-Alexander, T. L. (2013) Innovative strategies targeting obesity and non-communicable diseases in South Africa: what can we learn from the private healthcare sector?. Obesity Reviews, 14 Suppl. 2: 141-149. doi:10.1111/obr.12094


Author Lambert, E. V.
Kolbe-Alexander, T. L.
Title Innovative strategies targeting obesity and non-communicable diseases in South Africa: what can we learn from the private healthcare sector?
Journal name Obesity Reviews   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 1467-7881
1467-789X
Publication date 2013-11-01
Year available 2013
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1111/obr.12094
Volume 14
Issue Suppl. 2
Start page 141
End page 149
Total pages 9
Place of publication Chichester, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Publisher Wiley-Blackwell Publishing
Language eng
Abstract Summary: Over 50% of South African adult women and 30% of adult men are either overweight or obese, and nearly half of all adults are insufficiently active, with major increases in obesity-associated healthcare expenditures since 1980, a high proportion of which are paid by private health insurance. In this paper, we describe the Vitality programme, an incentivized health promotion programme from South Africa's largest private health insurer, Discovery Health, with over 2.5 million beneficiaries. Wellness activities of the programme include health risk assessments, subsidized gym memberships and smoking cessation or weight loss programmes with many incentives, including cash back on purchases of healthy foods. This incentive-based programme has shown a significant relationship between levels of engagement in wellness activities, in particular increasing participation in fitness-related activities, with lower healthcare expenditure and an increase in the overall ratio of healthy foods to total food purchases. This programme demonstrates that incentives may reduce the barriers for entry into care, increase preventive screening and increase engagement in healthy behaviours for prevention and management of obesity. This 'carrots versus sticks' approach may have implications for public health policy even in lower- and middle-income settings and underserved communities.
Keyword Financial incentives
Health insurance
Lower- and middle-income countries
Wellness programmes
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status Non-UQ
Additional Notes Special Issue: Program and Policy Options for Preventing Obesity in the Low, Middle, and Transitional Income Countries

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Non HERDC
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Created: Fri, 14 Feb 2014, 00:44:34 EST by Tracy Kolbe-alexander on behalf of School of Human Movement and Nutrition Sciences