Teenagers on mobile phones

Childhood obesity

Investing in tech to incentivise healthier options for young people

We're investing in a new business to promote healthier options for young people at ‘food to go’ outlets.

Key partnership information

Partner: SMASH

Funding amount: £500,000 equity investment

Duration: ongoing

Programme: childhood obesity

What we’re doing together

We are now a major investor in SMASH, a new app aiming to help young people Save Money and Stay Healthy. SMASH will give 13 to 24-year old’s a discount of up to 20% off the healthier food options at ‘food to go’ retailers. This includes fast food chains, restaurants, supermarkets, sandwich bars and coffee shops.

By working with outlets that young people are already shopping at, SMASH aims to shift demand toward the healthier options by making healthier food more affordable and accessible than less healthy alternatives.

 

Aims of the partnership

The primary aim of this investment is to make nutritious food easier to access for young people. By creating a financial incentive to opt for products with less calories, SMASH will act as a counterpoint to the myriad of unhealthy promotional offers that flood the market.

As SMASH is an app that will work with outlets across the UK, there is a huge potential for scale and therefore a large impact not only in our boroughs but nationwide. Based on analysis of its competitors, SMASH has set an ambitious growth trajectory with plans for 2.5m users and 9.6Bn Kcals saved per year.

SMASH is working closely with behavioural scientists to ensure the design of the app works for our target groups and encourages consumers to make the switch to healthier options.

In the longer term, this investment may also supply the opportunity to gather evidence to:

  • Advocate for permanent changes to the way fast food chains approach discounting
  • Make the case for VAT reform in this area

Distance to fast food outlets in Lambeth and Southwark

Connection to our strategy

Our childhood obesity programme strategy is to positively change the food environments in which children and families spend their time. Evidence tells us that accessibility to food that is both healthy, affordable and convenient is a major challenge for families on low incomes.

We have a range of interventions partnering with businesses to combat this challenge. Before our investment in SMASH we didn’t have any partners working with large fast food organisations or aggregators (delivery companies like JustEat) so this project is helping us expand our approach and influence the food system in new ways.

We conducted extensive research to better understand if and how a business like SMASH might support young people to access healthier options. The results were extremely positive with the vast majority of those interviewed saying they would download and use an app of this kind.

Although SMASH works with fast food outlets, they aim to promote the healthier options available to young people. For choices to qualify for the SMASH app, they must meet established Public Health England (PHE) recommended daily calorie guidelines (e.g. 600 calories for each main meal, 400 for breakfast).

As SMASH develops, all the products available will also pass the PHE “nutrient profile model”, which is the standard benchmark set to inform the Governments proposed High Fat Sugar Salt advertising rules from 2022.

This investment could provide us with evidence to call for far-reaching VAT reforms that make healthier eating more accessible to all.

However, our primary goal with SMASH is to improve consumption of healthier food among teens, particularly those from households on lower incomes. By investing directly in SMASH and taking a seat on the board, we can ensure that it is designed to meet the needs of residents in Lambeth and Southwark.

More about SMASH app

Save Money and Stay Healthy is launching in early 2021. Find out more about their work and the organisations they're partnering with.

Visit the SMASH app site
Sarah Hickey, Programme Director for childhood obesity

Have questions about our partnership with SMASH?

Sarah Hickey leads our work on tech investments for healthier eating

Contact Sarah to find out more