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Could loyalty cards improve our public health? LifeInfo Survey

Could loyalty cards improve our public health? The use of supermarket loyalty cards and mobile phone apps tracking diet or exercise are increasingly pervasive. Not only do they provide a useful service for the user but they also gather information about the habits of individuals. What if all that data could also be used to feed into public health research that could improve the overall health of the community?

Aims and Objectives

The LifeInfo survey, led by CDRC’s Dr Michelle Morris in partnership with Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust, surveyed 10,000 people about the types of loyalty card or apps they use, and their thoughts on allowing health researchers to access this information and link it with their health records, in the future.

If people are open to sharing their data, this project could be the first step in a much longer-term programme looking at how the records might be used in public health research.

The ultimate aim is to build a research tool that can cross-reference thousands of lifestyle and health records to uncover links and patterns. This could help researchers and healthcare professionals to develop interventions and treatments for conditions such as diabetes, obesity or cancer. Data would be anonymised and stored in a secure research environment so that there is no risk of identification of individuals.


There is huge potential to uncover impactful insights here – supermarkets gather loyalty card data for marketing purposes to increase sales but it could be used to improve people’s health too.

“If we can look in detail at the differences in lifestyle between people who have a serious health condition such as diabetes, and those who don’t, we might be able to uncover new patterns that could help us to treat or prevent these conditions.”

Dr Michelle Morris, University Academic Fellow in Health Data Analytics and CDRC Researcher, University of Leeds.

“Gaining these precise and detailed insights would give us a much clearer picture of how lifestyle affects health.  One clear example of where this might benefit paediatric medicine is in premature birth where there are many health risks.  We don’t always know why some babies are born early, but there may be clues in the diet and physical activity patterns of the mother.  Defining these patterns is the first step in identifying guidance or interventions that could improve the health of expectant mothers and babies.”

Adam Glaser, Professor of Paediatric Oncology and Late Effects at the University of Leeds, and Consulatant Paediatric Oncologist and Late Effects physician at the Leeds Teaching Hospital NHS Trust.

Research Team

Dr H Iles-Smith – Head of Nursing Research and Innovation, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust

Dr Michelle Morris – University Academic Fellow in Health Data Analytics and Turing Fellow, University of Leeds

Professor Adam Glaser – Professor of Paediatric Oncology and Late Effects, University of Leeds