SME of the Week: Sweatcoin – Incentivising behaviour change in Diabetes Prevention

Shaun Azam, Chief Strategy Officer of SME of the Week Sweatcoin, shares an update on the company’s collaboration with the South west London Health and Care Partnership on their Diabetes Prevention Decathlon project.

The NHS currently spends £6.1bn on obesity-related diseases such as diabetes (source: PHE). One of the leading causes of obesity is physical inactivity – in 2015, 63% of adults in the UK were overweight or obese. If current trends persist, it is likely that one in three people will be obese by 2034 and one in 10 will develop Type 2 diabetes. Promoting and incentivising physical activity has the potential to have a large impact on public health.

We created Sweatcoin to tackle this growing problem. Sweatcoin incentivises physical activity and behaviour change through a mobile app. The app tracks the number of steps a person takes and converts them into reward points – the points can be redeemed for products, goods and services. Users are incentivised to walk more by the possibility of gaining rewards, resulting in long term, sustained behaviour change.

One of the reasons we joined the DigitalHealth.London Accelerator programme was to develop our app further to meet NHS needs and to make stronger connections within the NHS. It was at the launch of the Accelerator programme that we met Chris Gumble, Diabetes Project Manager at the South West London Health and Care Partnership. Chris and the SWL Diabetes team had recently won the Health Innovation Network Innovation Grant to fund their Diabetes Prevention Decathlon project. The Decathlon project piloted a new type of diabetes prevention programme over 10 weeks (pre-lockdown) that offered patients more choice and encouraged them to work together as a team. It did this by introducing different types of physical activity each week, while also providing participants with the information they need to help prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes.

We collaborated with Chris and the Decathlon team to create a bespoke version of the Sweatcoin app which included an online leader board so the patients could compare progress, as well as a bespoke catalogue of relevant and useful rewards developed in partnership with Merton Public Health. Example rewards included a protein shake or coffee at a local business, or a pair of headphones to use while walking. The patients also had the ability to donate to charities through the app using their reward points. Learning materials were also delivered through the app, with informational videos on diabetes prevention presented through the app – patients could then participate in quizzes on what they had learnt for the chance to win points and prizes. A group chat functionality was also delivered from Sweatcoin, allowing patients to encourage each other and ask questions, building a strong community spirit.

The results of the Diabetes Prevention Decathlon project showed the positive impact of structured, incentivised support on behaviour change: 85% of participants completed the 10-week programme, compared to a completion rate of 25% for the National Prevention Programme. The average weight loss across the patients was 1.1kg over 10 weeks and the average rating of the programme (NPS score) by participants 9.5/10.

When asked about the impact of Sweatcoin’s involvement in the programme, 85% of participants said that the app enhanced their experience and 70% said it was the reason they kept on attending the sessions. These were amazing results and we’re extremely happy to have made a difference to the health of the programme participants.

We are keen to continue collaborating with the NHS and Healthcare organisations in this way, to replicate the success of the Diabetes Prevention Decathlon programme, with the goal of creating long term behavioural change and ultimately helping people to lead healthier lives.


DigitalHealth.London Accelerator