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My Wii age is the same as my real age. This means that the makers of Wii Sports consider that, based on my age, height and sense of balance - I am fit. Nice to be given the approval from a games console. If on the other hand it calculates that you are overweight or obese it rather nastily swells the tummy of your mii (your avatar in the game) in proportion. It's a cheeky response from a lump of electronics and plastic.

My Wii age is the same as my real age. This means that the makers of Wii Sports consider that, based on my age, height and sense of balance - I am fit. Nice to be given the approval from a games console. If on the other hand it calculates that you are overweight or obese it rather nastily swells the tummy of your mii (your avatar in the game) in proportion. It's a cheeky response from a lump of electronics and plastic.

It's difficult not to get uppity when people imply (at least when you haven't asked them) that you should correct the way you live. We tend to think our lifestyles only have an effect on ourselves and our close family and friends. In many ways it's just not true though. Stats last year showed that NHS trusts saw spending rise seven-fold in three years on obesity-related costs; a trend that will come under scrutiny when public sector spending as a whole faces cuts.

There's been an explosion of research in public policy over the last few years into more effective ways to encourage "behaviour change" - renewed interest in social marketing, behavioural economics, neuroscience,  social and cognitive psychology... Through a heavy pile of papers and reports, we seem to know more than ever about what affects the decisions we make. In theory allowing us to design intelligent policies and measures that give us freedom while protecting others from the fall-out of our actions.

One of my frustration is that we need to put more of this research into action - behaviour-change theory is fascinating, but it's only half the challenge. We need good ideas for how we can convert knowledge into practice.

One way in which the RSA is trying to jump this theory/practice gap is through a short project with the police. Working with the National Police Improvement Agency, we carried out some short qualitative research with officers and the public to identify a few key behaviours. We chose behaviours we thought likely to affect levels of public confidence in the police - the police force's main target - and chose an approach of using design and technology (everything from handcuffs to websites) to form behaviour change interventions.

Working with a few designers, we used the Design with Intent toolkit to brainstorm new ideas which could encourage more desirable behaviours. These ranged from using heart rate monitors to help officers monitor their levels of stress, to using Waitrose-like plastic tokens to allow people to vote for the police force's neighbourhood priorities. We'll publish a more comprehensive list in a few weeks here.

We ran through the same process a couple of weeks later with a larger group of people more familiar with the police. One of the strengths of the DwI toolkit seemed to me to give those who aren't professional designers the confidence to come up with new ideas. By looking at how others have used design to influence behaviour it is easier to transpose those ideas to the behaviours that you are trying to change.

It's methods like DwI that are one of the components missing from much of the behaviour change discourse. We need that idea-generating process to help policy makers work with designers, behaviour experts and people to make the leap into practice. Maybe then we'd find some better ways of reducing obesity and its rapidly rising social costs.

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