January is always full of good advice.  It comes from all quarters.

What stood out on a grey and damp return to work this week was the sense of urgency from the ‘be healthier’ brigade.

Public Health England (PHE) launched its annual start-of-year campaign with a £4.5m price tag and direction for parents to ‘Look for 100 calorie snacks, two a day max’; to which The Sun newspaper screamed ‘Mars Barmy’ and puffed a partnership with body coach Joe Wicks.

Behind the headlines lies an increasingly serious problem, which is only getting worse. Much worse in fact. Recent World Health Organisation (WHO) figures suggest that if children around the world keep eating to current trends, then by 2022 more than half will be obese.

Comedian Ricky Gervais once advised that: ‘if you can keep your head when all around you have lost theirs, then you probably haven’t understood the seriousness of the situation’. Well, this is serious and if we continue to ignore the signs, then mounting pressure on our health and respective health services will become unbearable.

But eating healthier is only part of the solution; exercising more has an important role to play.

A study looking back at the London Olympics in 2012 estimated the economic impact of the health benefits of sports participation and found that an increase in participation of just 1.3 per cent in London between 2010 and 2013 represented a potential saving for the NHS in one year of GBP 195 million, with further savings in subsequent years.

In Hill+Knowlton Strategies’ Sports Marketing + Sponsorship team, we’ve teamed up with our resident behavioural scientists (H+K SMARTER) to create SMARTER for Sport, an offer which draws on behavioural science expertise in how we develop and execute sports campaigns that get more people more active.

A key insight is that human decision-making is more complex, context-specific and irrational than you might expect. To know what really works to get people off the sofa, we need to do a lot more robust testing rather than talk about the theory. Take a look here at the studies we did at the end of last year with HSBC and British Cycling to get more of us back on our bikes.

We’ve also helped the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) and Duracell – in their partnership with the Great Run Series – in the last couple of years.

Thought-provoking research from Sport MR shows that the commonly assumed barrier to a more active lifestyle of ‘not enough time’ is just not valid any more. It reports that 69% of those who would like to be more active said they did not see ‘lack of available time’ as a significant barrier.

Instead, they quote: self-consciousness; concerns about body image; worry of a lack of sporting prowess; and discomfort at turning up alone; as the hurdles we need to overcome.

So if you’re looking for good advice – that lasts beyond January – come and talk to us.

Anthony Scammell
anthony.scammell@hkstrategies.com

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