Public Health England

Mobile technology helping to encourage healthier lifestyles across the nation

Public Health England (PHE) exists to protect and improve the nation’s health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services.

The challenge

Using digital and mobile technology, and the insights of behavioural science, PHE aims to provide personalised support on a mass scale and reach people they have not been able to reach before.

Not only is 82% of the population online, but today’s smartphones and wearable technology, for example, are allowing people to measure their own heart rates or count how many steps we take every day. PHE needed to develop new approaches to motivate and support people to make healthy changes in a way that resonates with them, including four of the seven priorities highlighted in their ‘From evidence into action’ priorities report:

  • Tackling obesity
  • Reducing smoking
  • Reducing harmful drinking
  • Ensuring every child has the best start in life

PHE continue to support local authorities and the NHS in adopting digital tools, building on the Change4Life and Stoptober campaigns, which already engage hundreds of thousands of people each year and on innovation programmes such as the How are you campaign (HAY).

Fast forward five years we are starting to see good progress, with high consumer engagement with the apps and some outstanding achievements with C25K really playing a key role during the pandemic lockdown.

The solution

Over the last five years Vidatec has worked with Public Health England on series of projects, with a key focus on improving the health and wellbeing of the country, through the design and development of engaging mobile apps that incite positive behaviour change – with millions of downloads suite of apps.

Couch to 5k

Originally developed by PHE in association with the BBC, the Couch to 5K app was created to support and encourage people looking to make positive changes to their health and wellbeing. Part of the wider One You program, C25K has by far been the most successful app with users.

Apple App Store rating of 4.8 and Google Play Store 4.7 rating, as at 4 August 2020.

Read more about our work on the One You Couch to 5k app.

NHS Smokefree

Created to help those who want to stop smoking, using a four-week programme giving the user support, encouragement and tracking milestones. Similarly to Drink Free Days and Stoptober this app keeps users motivated by showing their progress and the impact of stopping smoking throughout the programme.

Apple App Store rating of 4.6 and Google Play Store 4.3 rating, as at 4 August 2020.

App links:

Change4Life Smart Recipes

Developed by PHE as part of the Change4Life programme, the smart recipes app was created to help families prepare tasty and healthier meals for everyone to enjoy.

Apple App Store rating of 4.5 and Google Play Store 4.6 rating, as at 4 August 2020.

App links:

One You Easy Meals

This app was created to provide users with healthy meal ideas and recipes and using those to plan the ingredients needed with a shopping list and calories. With the aim of educating users to make healthier food choices.

Apple App Store rating of 4.7 and Google Play Store 4.5 rating, as at 4 August 2020.

App links:


Created to help those who want to stop smoking during the Stoptober campaign. Using a 28 day programme giving the user support, motivation and encouragement. Tracking progress throughout the programme and showing the impact to their health each day.

Apple App Store rating of 4.5 and Google Play Store 4.5 rating, as at 4 August 2020.

App links:

Drink Free Days

Drink Free days was developed to help users cut down on the amount of alcohol they consume. Helping people to understand their current intake, take control and pledge their drink free days. Driving positive behaviour change by showing progress and the impact on health and finances.

Apple App Store rating of 4.6 and Google Play Store 4.4 rating, as at 4 August 2020.

App links:

Vidatec has delivered exactly the sort of world leading research, innovation and excellence that the UK is rightly proud of – the brilliant team developing apps like Couch to 5k and Sugar Smart is improving the health of people across the country.

We put prevention at the heart of the NHS Long Term Plan, and it is work like this which will help achieve our ambition to keep people leading healthier lives for longer.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock

Helping you develop digital experiences that improve lives