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Global leaders in food psychology and sports science to headline Discovery Vitality Summit

Press release -

Global leaders in food psychology and sports science to headline Discovery Vitality Summit

Johannesburg, South Africa – May 21, 2013 - Discovery Vitality and the Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) are proud to host the Discovery Vitality Summit to be held at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg from 15 - 17 August 2013.

The Discovery Vitality Summit builds on the success of the annual Discovery Vitality Wellness and Fitness Convention which has drawn together leading local and international experts in the health and wellness industry since 2002.

This year’s prestigious event will enable not only health, fitness and sports industry professionals and role-players to share their knowledge and expertise, but will also provide the broader community with access to leading thinkers. Over 1500 delegates are expected to attend the Summit.

Says Dr Craig Nossel, Head of Vitality Wellness: “Globally, we are facing major health issues that impact on both the growth and the sustainability of our economy and our society. The Discovery Vitality Summit brings together top international thinkers to engage on the science and art of health promotion and prevention of disease.  We look forward to the diversity of views from the high calibre speakers that are assembled for the Summit”.

The prominent speakers at this cutting-edge wellness conference include Brian Wansink, the John Dyson Professor of Consumer Behavior at Cornell University; Tyler Hamilton, former professional cyclist and best-selling author; Adrian Gore, CEO of Discovery; and Prof Tim Noakes, co-founder of the Sports Science Institute of South Africa. One of the panel discussions will be chaired by Dr Derek Yach, Senior Vice President of The Vitality Group. The Summit will also include a wellness and fitness expo showcasing the latest in technology and wellness, and group fitness activities run by Discovery Vitality partners.

Topics under the spotlight will include “Health: the next frontier” (exploring new and increasing health challenges in a local and global context), “A debate on the science of nutrition”, “The psychology of wellness” and “Beyond sport”.

Says Morne Du Plessis, Managing Director at SISSA: “ The Sports Science Institute of South Africa (SSISA) is proud to partner with Discovery Vitality in bringing together some of the world’s most influential thought leaders an opinion makers in the field of fitness, wellness and excellence in sport. This summit will benefit all those with an interest in their own health and fitness, and sporting achievement as well as that of our nation. We at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa strive to promote sporting performance and health of all South Africans, through the execution, dissemination and application of science”.

Summit details

Date: 15 August 2013 – Headline speakers and debates

 16 August 2013 – Themed tracks for health professionals

 17 August 2013 – Group exercise day for all audience members


Three-day pass (15-17 August) – R1 500 per ticket including the expo

One-day pass to Group Activities on 17 August only: R 700 per ticket

For more information, visit


Note to editors:

Brian Wansink directs the Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University. He is author of over 100 academic articles and books, including the best-selling Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think (2006) along with Marketing Nutrition (2005), Asking Questions (2004), and Consumer Panels (2002). Wansink’s award-winning academic research on food psychology and behaviour change has been published in the world’s top marketing, medical, and nutrition journals. He will talk about “mindless eating”, why we get fat, and the impact of advertising on the world’s eating habits.

Tyler Hamilton was once one of the world’s top-ranked cyclists and a member of Lance Armstrong’s inner circle. Shortly after he reached his own personal pinnacle—winning the gold medal at the 2004 Olympics—he was found guilty of doping and exiled from the sport. In 2012, Hamilton released his memoir, The Secret Race: Inside the Hidden World of the Tour de France: Doping, Cover-ups, and Winning at All Costs. The book became an instant New York Times bestseller. At the Summit, Hamilton will ask the question ’What is the true price of winning at all costs?’ and talk about ‘The power of truth’. 

Adrian Gore launched Discovery in 1992, and the company has since evolved into a diversified and multinational financial services group. Discovery is widely acknowledged as a global thought leader in wellness behavioural change. Gore sits on the World Economic Forum Global Health Advisory Board, as well as on the Massachusetts General Hospital Global Health Advisory Board. He will talk about creating a healthier nation and will explain how Vitality supports this big idea.

Prof Tim Noakes is Professor in the Discovery Health Chair of Exercise and Sports Science at the University of Cape Town. He is also Director of the UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine. Noakes has published more than 450 scientific publications and several books. In 2003, he received the UCT Book Award for Lore of Running, considered the “bible of the sport”. He has run more than 70 marathons and ultra-marathons. He will speak about sports development at the Summit.

Dr Derek Yach served as PepsiCo's Senior Vice-President of Global Health and Agriculture Policy before joining The Vitality Group in the US. He previously headed global health at the Rockefeller Foundation, was a Professor of Global Health at Yale University, and a former Executive Director of the World Health Organization (WHO). He also established the Centre for Epidemiological Research at the South African Medical Research Council. He serves on several advisory boards including those of the Clinton Global Initiative, the World Economic Forum, the National Institute of Health's Fogarty International Centre and the World Food Program USA. He will chair a debate on the science of nutrition and the advertising aimed at children.



Discovery information

Discovery is an authorised financial services provider.

Discovery operates in the healthcare cover market in South Africa, the United Kingdom and China; the life assurance market in South Africa and the United Kingdom; as well as the long-term savings and investment market, and short-term insurance market in South Africa.

Vitality, Discovery’s wellness programme, is the world’s largest scientific, incentive-based wellness solution. It provides individual and corporate wellness initiatives in South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and China. The global Vitality membership base now exceeds 3.4 million lives.

Discovery’s core purpose is to make people healthier, and to enhance and protect their lives through financial products that clients need and want.

South African operations

Discovery Health

  • Launched in 1992, Discovery Health isSouth Africa’s largest healthcare funder and manager of medical schemes. It manages 14 medical schemes.
  • This includes the Discovery Health Medical Scheme, which has a 50% share in the open medical schemes market, making it South Africa’s largest open medical scheme.
  • Discovery Health covers more than 2.6 million lives.
  •  The Scheme is the only one in South Africa to enjoy an AA+ rating for its claims paying ability, the highest possible credit rating from international rating agency Global Credit Ratings.
  • The Discovery Health Medical Scheme holds over R7.4 billion in reserves.
  • Discovery Health pioneered consumer-driven healthcare in South Africa with the introduction of innovations like the Medical Savings Account and its wellness programme, Vitality.
  • Discovery Health is continuously innovating new products and tools to enhance the quality of care members receive, including HealthID, an iPad-based application for doctors launched in 2012.
  • Discovery Health was voted the top medical aid brand in the Sunday Times Top Brands survey for both 2010 and 2011.
  • Discovery Health was voted the top healthcare product supplier at the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) Awards.
  • In 2012, the PricewaterhouseCoopers fifth biennial Strategic and Emerging Issues in South African Insurance survey rated Discovery Health’s insurance products as the leader in the industry.

Discovery Life

  • Discovery Life was launched in 2000 and is South Africa’s fastest growing major life assurer in the risk market, having captured 25% of the overall risk broker market.
  • It was the first South African insurer to separate risk from investment, leading significant change in the industry.
  • With 364 887 individual policies, the embedded value of its business is now more than R17 billion including Discovery Invest.
  • Discovery Life addresses the problem of underinsurance through its unique integrated operating model and through innovative product development.
  • Discovery Life was voted the top life assurer in the Sunday Times Top Brands survey for both 2010 and 2011.
  • Discovery Life was voted the top risk and life assurance supplier at the 2010 Financial Intermediaries’ Association of Southern Africa (FIA) Awards and the top long-term insurer: recurring savings at the 2011 and 2012 FIA Awards.
  • In 2012, the PricewaterhouseCoopers fifth biennial Strategic and Emerging Issues in South African Insurance survey rated Discovery Life’s life products as the leader in the industry.

Discovery Invest 

  • Discovery Invest was launched in October 2007 and declared its maiden profit in 2010.
  • Discovery Invest combines the breadth and skill of the asset management industry with the existing research and development capabilities of Discovery Life.
  • The company offers consumers a unique and comprehensive product range that addresses the current gaps in the market by offering greater protection against poor investment choices.
  • With 74 327policies, Discovery Invest now has more than R26.6 billion in assets under management.
  • Through Discovery Invest’s LISP platform, clients have access to over 329 local and 65 offshore investment funds.
  • Discovery Invest is now the largest writer of endowment policies in South Africa with a 21% market share.
  • In 2011, Discovery Invest received the Financial Intermediaries Association of Southern Africa (FIA) award for best recurring premium business.

Discovery Insure

  • Discovery Insure was launched in May 2011 and now has 27 973 policyholders.
  • This pioneering product was created by leveraging the behavioural expertise developed in the Vitality programme with the latest telematics technology.
  • The unique Vitalitydrive programme encourages and rewards better driving behaviour and ensuring that vehicles are roadworthy.
  • At the heart of Vitalitydrive is the DQ-Track telematics device that measures and reports crucial aspects of driving behaviour.
  • Vitalitydrive provides up to 50% fuel rewards on clients’ monthly BP fuel spend.
  • Young adults between 18 and 25 can receive further discounts of up to 25% on their motor premiums.
  • Discovery Insure offers comprehensive vehicle, personal and household cover.

Discovery Vitality

  • Launched in 1997, Vitality is Discovery’s science-based wellness programme that underpins each of the Discovery businesses and is an international brand in its own right.
  • It is the largest programme of its kind in the world.
  • Vitality encourages healthy behaviours that reduce long-term healthcare costs by rewarding members for improving their health.
  • There are now more than 1.6 million Vitality members in South Africa.
  • Vitality is accredited by the Sports Science Institute of South Africa.
  • The Vitality value offering is enhanced by the DiscoveryCard, Discovery’s unique Visa credit card which gives members real cash back.
  • Launched in 2004, the DiscoveryCard is the largest non-bank card in issue, with an 8.9% share of point-of-sales spend. There are now 231 302 primary cardholders.
  • The HealthyLiving™ benefit offers Vitality members up to 25% cash back on HealthyCare™ products at Clicks, HealthyGear™ at adidas and TotalSports stores, and HealthyFood™ items at Pick n Pay.
  • Vitality now has the ability to integrate into over 100 fitness tracking technologies.

International operations

United Kingdom

In the UK, Discovery has a 75% shareholding in a joint venture with Prudential plc. Through PruHealth and PruProtect, the company offers healthcare cover and protection products.


  • Launched in 2004, PruHealth is the fourth largest private medical insurer in the UK and the only one that rewards people for leading a healthy lifestyle.
  • PruHealth now covers 548 970 lives.
  • It offers consumer-directed products linked to the Vitality wellness programme.
  • In 2010, Discovery acquired Standard Life Healthcare, thereby leveraging the significant assets of both companies and resulting in greater scale for PruHealth.
  • PruHealth has won several awards for its product innovations.


  • PruProtect, which was launched in 2007, markets consumer-engaged life assurance products in the UK market.
  • The company’s products integrate with those of PruHealth and Vitality to unlock added value and significant premium savings for clients.
  • The company has become a major player in the UK protection market. With 136 164 policies in force, it now covers 163 566 lives.
  • PruProtect has received industry recognition, including awards in four categories at the 2011 Defacto Awards. The company was also named Best Individual Protection Provider in 2011 by Professional Adviser, and walked off with the Innovation Award at the 2011 Protection Review.

United States

The Vitality Group

  • The Vitality Group was launched in 2007 and offers a stand-alone version of the Vitality programme to self-insured, large employer groups and to healthcare carriers.
  • Discovery holds a 75% share in The Vitality Group, 25% being held by Humana Inc.
  • The Vitality Group now covers 293 674 lives.
  • The Vitality Group has entered into a partnership with Wellness and Prevention, a subsidiary of Johnson&Johnson, the world’s premier consumer health company.
  • The Vitality Group recently announced a partnership with ADP, one of the world’s largest providers of payroll and employee benefits administration solutions.
  • In 2011, the group was awarded the C Everett Koop National Health Award for its work with Alcon Laboratories, a highly prestigious award recognising outstanding workplace health improvement programmes.


  • Launched in 2011, HumanaVitality is a joint venture between Humana Inc and Discovery (through The Vitality Group) that makes Vitality available to Humana clients with commercial medical plans.
  • Discovery holds a 25% share in HumanaVitality.
  • Humana is the third largest US insurer, based on revenue. Humana has approximately 11.8 million medical members and 7.7 million specialty members.
  • HumanaVitality now has more than 1.5 million Vitality members.


Ping An Health

  • Ping An Health was launched in China in 2010, after Discovery acquired a 20% share in Ping An Health Insurance Co of China Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China.
  • Ping An Insurance is China’s leading insurer and the second largest in the world.
  • The joint venture will see Discovery’s product innovation and consumer-engaged model exported to a potential market of 83 million families.
  • Vitality was launched in China through Ping An Health in May 2012.

Press contacts

Felicity Hudson

Felicity Hudson

Press contact Head of Reputation Management Discovery Group 0115294514
Nthabiseng Chapeshamano

Nthabiseng Chapeshamano

Press contact Senior Reputation Manager Healthcare, Long & Short Term Insurance, and Sustainability
Zeenat Moorad

Zeenat Moorad

Press contact Senior Reputation Manager Banking | Vitality | Sponsorships
Karishma Jivan

Karishma Jivan

Press contact Reputation Consultant Healthcare & Sustainability
Sesona Ngqakamba

Sesona Ngqakamba

Press contact Reputation Management Consultant Banking | Vitality | Sponsorships
Lianne Osterberger

Lianne Osterberger

Press contact Special Projects: Reputation Management 083 27 27 313

Our core purpose and values guide us in all we do. A clear and profound promise: to make people healthier and enhance and protect their lives.

Discovery is a shared value insurance company whose purpose and ambition are achieved through a pioneering business model that incentivises people to be healthier, and enhances and protects their lives.

Discovery Limited
Discovery Group Limited, 1 Discovery Place, Sandton
2196 Johannesburg
South Africa