Facebook PixelCOVID-19 inspired "Fitness Passports" as an extreme measure against the most common death causes
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COVID-19 inspired "Fitness Passports" as an extreme measure against the most common death causes

Image credit: Taken from https://unsplash.com/photos/qS7fr07bljM and edited.

J. Nikola
J. Nikola Jul 24, 2021
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The idea is to develop the concept of Fitness Passports with the underlying system of health monitoring, promotion, and awards. According to your physical activity and healthy habits, you could get awarded for the benefit you bring to the state by taking care of yourself.

The introduction

COVID-19 changed things a lot. For the first time in history, people were forced to stay in their houses and obey the set of extreme quarantine measures to stay safe and help countries lower the incidence and death rates. But how deadly was this pandemic and how necessary and legally acceptable were the extreme measures are still subjects of discussion. By the Health System Tracker, COVID-19 currently stands in 7th place on the list of the most significant death causes and was undoubtedly the leading cause of death in certain moments of recent two years. If the nature of the periodic appearance of COVID-19 cases is taken into account, it still stands pretty high, but uncomparable to the causes of death such as heart disease, cancer, accidents, stroke, and others that exist for decades. What if other causes of death were taken as seriously as the COVID-19 was?

By closing restaurants, bars and canceling all public gatherings, along with total quarantines from time to time, countries were more or less efficient in reducing the incidence rates. Consequently, death rates were reduced, too. What if extreme measures to reduce the number of accidents, heart diseases, or strokes were implemented, inspired by the COVID-19 example? Would they be as efficient as the COVID-19 measures?

As the newest measure, countries implemented the certificates of the health status in terms of COVID-19 pandemics. If you test negative, get over a recent COVID-19 infection, or get vaccinated, you get a health certificate. With this certificate, which usually lasts from 3 days to few months, you can attend events, travel, and most importantly, get back to your normal life much faster. The international certificate which allows you to travel is called the " COVID-19 Passport" . While many people think it's just making things more complicated, I am sure it opened many new doors. One of them is described below and could potentially help us live healthier and longer!

The idea

My idea would be to reduce the rate of strokes, heart diseases, cancers, and all other health-related causes of death by motivating people to live healthier lives.

The concept of health certificates
I would implement the concept of health certificates, called "Fitness IDs" or "Passports", which would be a digital record of evidence of your healthy lifestyle. It would contain information about your gym subscriptions, sports club memberships, health-related projects, healthy initiatives, and even the receipts from the healthy food shops and markets. You would collect points for everything you do or attend that has a beneficial effect on your health. The points would appear or disappear on your account, depending on what activity did you do and when. For example, you would get points for an active gym membership, but they would significantly reduce when it expires. The points would not completely disappear because the effect of working out on your body was rather long-term. A similar principle would apply to the other point-awarding things, too.

The personal benefit
If people realize that by working out and eating healthy, they can, not only feel better and lose weight but also travel with 5% discount (or even more, if traveling to places famous for sports and healthy lifestyle), get coupons for their favorite foods, pay less for Netflix subscription, public transportation or pay less/eat more in fast food restaurants (because they do something to reduce the negative effect of it), they would feel more like doing it. The final consequence, hopefully, would be the reduction in the incidence rates of the "most popular" health-related causes of death.

Who would award you for this and why?
As many things that we pay are public and state-owned, the first and the toughest one to consider is the government. By simple math, we could calculate how much of the state's money can a person that lives a healthy lifestyle save by reducing hospital visits.
On the other hand, companies directly lose money when you don't work. If people took care of their health, they would be able to work more and help their company to save money. That extra money could be added to your salary as a "health bonus".

Important note
The concept would not punish you if you don't obey the rules but would allow you to do much more if you consider healthy living.


How could we make this measure much more extreme and motivating?
How could it be tested on small scale?
Who else could prospect from your healthy lifestyle and would be a good body to ask money from?
Would this make you live a healthier life?



Creative contributions

Not Maintaining Healthy Lifestyles should Reduce the Money gotten from Life Insurances

Samuel Bello
Samuel Bello Jul 26, 2021
By committing suicide, someone with a life insurance could risk making their life insurance valid. When people cultivate habits that are deleterious to their health and could make them live shorter lives, the insurance companies usually overlook such "gradual suicides" even if they directly or indirectly lead to the death of the insured person. Insurance policies should be structured so that people who have habits that can shorten their life spans are paid less money for their life insurances. Drinking, smoking and not exercising regularly could reduce their insurance payments by small amounts. These policies should encourage healthier habits in the long run. This is an example of measures that encourage healthy living.
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Make it more accessible not tracked and forced

Michelle Christine Aug 28, 2021
Working out and playing certain sports used to be fun for me UNTIL I started learning about ideas like these. They were fun because they weren't required, and literally by definition "just for fun." Sure you can get everything down to a precise number but at what real cost? I'm all for making these things more ACCESSIBLE (reduced working hours required for a decent life, more local places to be able to drop in and play whatever game you like, affordable gym memberships, parks and safe walking paths) but not forced. I almost added creative in home exercise equipment to the list and realized it's much too similar to a hamster wheel. And we can do better. Make it available, keep many many many many many different options open, but don't let the data reduce us down to an experiment and take all of the joy out of living.

The anxiety mindset this would bring about to anyone who isn't completely oblivious to everything I'm not sure would outweight the physical health benefits. This should not exist (possibly ever) but definitely not before a much more serious discussion and agreement on irrevocable human rights and insurance/other profits.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikolaa month ago
Well, ideas like this exist because food became more accessible. It got cheaper, faster to prepare and more delicious. I think that as long as you have very accessible food of various quality, people will stick to it rather than do sports. We could open twice as many gyms, parks and sports clubs and would still have a problem getting people there. Food gives you pleasure with much less effort than sports. That's why I think we need to restrict it somehow and make it "forced". People smoke because they want to and enjoy it. Opening more clinics or sports clubs will not make them stop. But banning smoking in many areas or raising cigarette prices will. Not sure if the analogy is right, but I hope you understood my viewpoint). Check my new contribution to rising prices here.
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State-funded discounts for registered organ donors

J. Nikola
J. Nikola Mar 05, 2022
Give additional discounts on club memberships, healthy food, sport/food-related studies and physical activities to the registered organ donors. The discounts should be funded by the state since organ donations are strictly regulated and public.
  • To promote healthy living
  • To make a healthy living financially accessible for a wider audience
  • To motivate people to become organ donors and help the ones in need after they die
  • To increase the quality of donated organ material by healthy living and diet
How would it work?
You could enter the program by registering as an organ donor. In return, you would get a discount or a program member card that you present while buying food in healthy food stores, signing up for a club membership, paid physical activity or sports colleges (or similar study programmes).
Why would the state fund it?
  • people pay social and health securities, insurances, taxes and bring money in, while dead people don't --> healthy individuals who live longer are the ultimate economical goal of every state with public health policies
  • people die and their organs go to waste, while there is a really long list of organ recipients waiting for their life-saving organs --> increase the number of organ donors to save more lives
  • to move forward in finding solutions to reduce the rate of aging, we need more people interested in sport and food studies --> invest in the development of health, food and sports systems and technologies
How to stop the fraud?
Some people would probably try to use the advantages of the program and then sign off the organ donor list. To prevent this, an informational interview and a contract should be signed, where every participant gets familiar with the advantages and the responsibilities they have. If for example, people want to leave the program, they should pay back the full amount of the discount they claimed.
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Michaela D
Michaela D7 months ago
I like the idea of "rewards" for organ donors. Other ways to reward them would be "VIP" pass in hospitals (faster service, better rooms, lower cost).
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola7 months ago
Just an update. Swiss voters gave consent to a new "opt-out" system for organ donations, meaning that "unless you actively opt-out of donation during your lifetime, you will be presumed to have been in favour". The new law will increase the number of organ donors and save numerous laws. Even in this setting, state-funded discounts e.g. reduced taxes could be applied to make people more satisfied with their organs being donated after their death.
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Funding - who else can benefit

Miloš Stanković
Miloš Stanković May 27, 2022
Who to ask for money?
  • I think sports goods companies like Nike or Adidas could be a major benefactor to this. Although they are opting more for pampering to the obese population by making outfits for "plus size" models. But some could go in their designed way. As there is no need to buy training sneakers or different types of shoes for the multiple sports you practice if you are obese, a heavy smoker, or a couch potato. Aiming to get fit should be rewarded with discounts for the equipment, equipment gives you a bit of a boost to work on yourself, creating a positive reinforcement loop. Certain long-time customers. It would definitely incentivize me more.
  • Besides decreasing hospital spending, another aspect of the government's involvement could be the military, as it needs able-bodied people in case things go south. I think that nations are now waking up to it being a possibility still.
  • They wouldn't necessarily benefit from more people being fit, yet third-party marketers could be provided access to your data and hence give money for discounts in return. As you said, allowed access to your food ordering apps and scan them for unhealthy items purchased, but also give the data to sponsors. Same for calorie tracking, and step counter apps.
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J. Nikola
J. Nikola6 months ago
You have some interesting ideas here. Sports goods companies are eligible partners for sure. The military didn't cross my mind but is an interesting idea. Do you think something about an obligatory military course for every 18-year-old or something else?
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Miloš Stanković
Miloš Stanković6 months ago
J. Nikola Not necessarily for that, although I do believe that at least basic training should be a must. I thought that the government could give some benefits to the fit people: discounts on government fares, passport fees and such, maybe public transportation.
Because if things go south in terms of an invasion, everyone gets mobilized. Military training or not. So if you get a lot of obese conscripts, you won't be as combat effective.
But war isn't the only incentive, often in times of natural disaster crises like floods or earthquakes, the state often falls back to relying on either military servicemen or volunteers. Obese unathletic people aren't able to stack sandbags as fast as fit individuals, or for as long.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni6 months ago
Miloš Stanković Basic training is a good idea. Some countries have it. I know Singapore and Israel do.
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Charge unhealthy late-night snacks 30% higher

J. Nikola
J. Nikola Nov 09, 2022
In the plan of getting more people to eat healthier, we could include:
  • rising prices of fast food products by 30% after 8 pm, while keeping healthy food prices the same
  • at the same time support opening new healthy food chains and diners and staying open late
It is scientifically proven that late-night eating increases hunger, decreases energy expenditure, and modifies metabolic pathways in adults with overweight and obesity . Feel free to check the interesting paper in more detail or watch a short video.
Things to have in mind
The proposed measure could also potentiate the development of the fast food industry in the direction of a more healthy way of food preparation, serving and goods.
However, to prevent a giant legal issues, strict categorization of the food-selling restaurant should be made, dividing them into fast food or other types of food groups. The main categorization elements could be the 1) goods quality (?), 2) storage duration (fresh or frozen ingredients) and 3) ways of preparation (oil frying and grilling vs air frying, cooking or baking).


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Importance of including calorie restriction tracking

J. Nikola
J. Nikola Oct 10, 2022
Recent findings showed that calorie restriction delivers amazing results in the prolongation of mice and human lifespan and that it is probably mediated by SPARC protein. This should definitely somehow be included in the idea of a "Fitness Passport". Many people focus on exercising and healthy food as the keys to healthier lifestyles, but while tracking exercise is considered pretty easy and straightforward, tracking caloric intake is a bigger challenge that we discussed here, here, here and here.


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General comments

J. Nikola
J. Nikolaa year ago
Shubhankar Kulkarni Darko Savic Thank you for the first feedback!

I know smokers will sometimes live much longer than "healthy" individuals. It's happening and we are still not sure why. But the similar principles can be applied to the COVID-19 cases. Some people exposed to the virus will never get sick, while the others, who stayed in quarantine for months, will get the disease and maybe die. That's still not the reason why you should stop vaccinating people or remove the safety measures, right? Also, your thoughts are exactly the reason why I wrote the Important note segment. I would not change the existing treatment of regular people. I would just award the ones who take care of their health. At the moment, events like concerts, parties, and fairs are completely banned in some countries and people who vaccinate are "awarded" the ability to attend those. It's a bit different, but I hope you understand where I'm going.

Concerning the medical insurance companies, they already do this. In my insurance company, they charge approx. 6, 9, or 18 euros/month, depending on if you are <40, <60, or >60 years old, respectively. Also, when you sign up, they ask you questions like "do you smoke", "how often do you visit hospitals", etc. Nobody asks you if you do sports or eat healthily. The idea I suggested would offer people get discounts based on their healthy lifestyle, what they do not get now.
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Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarnia year ago
I like the idea very much! Just one concern: Definitions of health and disease are very vague. For example, a person who is smoking since their twenties can live well up to over a hundred without any disease although smoking shows a significant correlation with lung cancer. Therefore, I think punishments should not be a part of the equation since what is healthy and what is not strictly distinct.
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Darko Savic
Darko Savica year ago
One downside I could imagine is when medical insurance companies get ahold of the data and start charging higher premiums to people who aren't healthy and are more likely to require medical help.
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