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Fast food fitness

Image credit: https://www.runnersworld.com/training/a20810315/the-worlds-simplest-learn-to-run-program/

Spook Louw
Spook Louw Apr 01, 2021
At first, I had an idea for an app that rewards people for working out. Some sort of system that pays you money to reach certain goals. Funding these rewards would be difficult though, I considered organizations like the WHO, but I know the amount of red tape with institutions that big are endless.

Then, I thought, "what is the cause of the horrible obesity in the world today?"

Our diets!

And who's to blame for the worst things we eat? - The fast food outlets all across the globe. McDonald's and KFC have a larger presence in most countries than even the WHO. So, why shouldn't they fund it?

Not only would it be appropriate, as they are a very large part of the problem, but it could also be possible. They are constantly trying to do away with the idea that their food is contributing to the spike in obesity worldwide. So they might just fund something like this as a PR stunt.

So, let's imagine the app, it can be as simple as any stock standard fitness app on the market today. You enter your vitals and it calculates your ideal BMI and creates goals for you to get there. In order to prevent fraud, it might have to be linked with an accurate measuring device, like Garmin (Also a potential sponsor, as they could obviously boost sales if people bought their products for making use of this app.)
When you then achieve these goals you are rewarded, ideally, with money, but seeing as we live in a consumerist world, probably with coupons or discounts.

Still, whatever the reward is, the end result would be the same. More people would be active. More importantly, the right people would be active as fatter people would have more goals to reach than people who are already quite fit.


Creative contributions

Tax on excess calories within a portion

Darko Savic
Darko Savic Apr 01, 2021
A tax on excess calories within a portion could fund such rewards. Sure people could buy multiple portions, but then they can't avoid being honest with themselves and understanding the root of the problem. This would effectively mean that people who destroy themselves on purpose pay a reward to those who can muster up self-control to save themselves.

I'm thinking... Maybe it doesn't have to be a government-imposed tax per se. maybe fast food and snack makers could form an alliance and show that they care for the health of their customers. They could come up with a scheme where the cash register doesn't only calculate the price but also calories. Then the total number of calories would be split by the number of people in the group that's buying. Any excess would be marked up in price. Sure, there are easy ways to cheat such a system but this is more about people knowing that they are hurting themselves rather than the company trying to bill them excessively.

Spending on healthcare as a responsibility of fast food companies

Shubhankar Kulkarni
Shubhankar Kulkarni Apr 02, 2021
Just as other companies "need" to spend some amount as CSR "corporate social responsibility", fast food companies should spend on healthcare.

I love the idea, @Spook Louw! I also like the idea of coupons.
  1. I think the coupons can be discounts on gym memberships and other sports or recreational physical activities (paragliding, horse riding, etc.).
  2. Also, as an example, perfect attendance in a month in the gym can lead to 1 free burger at McDonald's. This will further improve motivation.
  3. Maybe every fifth outlet of a fast-food chain should be accompanied by a sports or recreational complex in the area. The management of the complex should be the responsibility of the fast-food chain.

It could grow bigger than just an app

Juran Apr 02, 2021
I love the idea! I was thinking about the same thing recently, so I did some research. There are some apps for cycling that paired up with several sponsors and offer discounts for miles you cycle. The problem is that nobody will cycle for a free sample of daily lenses or a 20% discount in a very expensive bicycle shop and on the other hand, nobody will give you a 50% discount on shoes if you cycle 200 miles. There's no benefit for both sides.

I think people need deeper reasons to stick with sports and you are exactly hitting one - diet. People are nowadays more and more interested in what they consume and how healthy they live. They start doing sports, but the diet is the main reason why they usually give up - progress shows no immediate effects if you don't stick to a specific meal plan.

The idea of an app that is sponsored by McDonald's or a similar fast-food chain is brilliant! The only problem is that if they decide to sponsor that, they could also decide to have an app of their own. Actually, not just an app. That could start a big transformation of McDonald's.

What if they:
1) started selling more protein shakes, salads and healthy food products
2) built an app or a feature in an existing app that keep track of your running, cycling, walking or any other sport activities
3) counted spent calories and give you discounts for meals that perfectly fit to your diet plan (like @Darko mentioned)
4) started offering "health life suggestions"
5) opened McDonald's gyms where they also offer only "healthy" products (called McGym's :D)
2) opened "run-ins" where you can just order and pay the protein shake or an electrolyte drink by an app and take it by running into the "run-in" station

It could work and, in my opinion, could conquer the market much easier than a locally-based gyms and fast-food restaurants (like @Shubhankar mentioned). When you already have a network/chain, it's much easier. But with the right approach, Shubhankars last point could be more beneficial, since it targets the smaller businesses.
Spook Louw
Spook Louw4 months ago
I think if McDonald's just suddenly turned around 180 degrees and changed their entire business plan, they'd change the world. Obviously, it's a huge risk, but I really think it could be the best move ever. Imagine the statement that'd make.

Anyway, yes perhaps sponsor isn't the right word. McDonald's would have to buy the app. Same with something like Garmin, they wouldn't sponsor the app, but they might buy it if it's already completely developed.

Another angle could be health insurance companies. They have the money and they stand to benefit from their clients being healthier.


Spook Louw
Spook Louw Apr 29, 2021
Whichever company takes this on could partner with a fitness tracker like Fitbit or Garmin, but they could also create their own hardware solely for tracking the relevant information for their campaign.

Let's say, for instance, you can sign up for McFit and they will then give you a McDonalds tracker which simply records your calories burnt and adds them to your online log on which your rewards are calculated.

It could even be powered with kinetic energy as proposed in the linked idea.

The downside would be that simpler hardware would allow for more cheating, whereas a better system would need a larger budget. This decision would depend on the type of company running the campaign and its goals. If it's a short term marketing scheme, cheap and inaccurate will be fine, whereas if it's a social contribution, they'd need to run it on a comprehensive system.
Melanie Well3 months ago
I think this is a great input. You do need simple hardware (possibly sponsored by companies such as McDonalds & Co.) to make it affordable for low-income families that often are most affected by obesity.
Spook Louw
Spook Louw3 months ago
Melanie Well Exactly, the participants should ideally not pay for anything, the company running the program could provide the tracker in any form they see fit. If the promotion works as planned they'd be able to make that money back by generating more business, while the customer benefits from being healthier and getting a discount/prize for their efforts.

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General comments

Povilas S
Povilas S4 months ago
I would think twice about rewarding people with discounts (if fast-food chains would sponsor the app). Then people would lose weight/get fit to get fast food discounts in order to (basically) get fat again. Vicious circle. If they would be rewarded in money, at least they could choose not to buy fast food, but spend it on something wiser instead. Maybe discounts could be for some organic/healthy food shops. But then again - fast-food sellers might not like the latter, because it means losing customers. In fact, they might not like to sponsor such apps at all, when you think about it better, unless the government imposed sanctions on them in such form.