They're calling it the Pounds for Pounds trial and it's being put by their National Health Services in conjunction with the private "Weight Wins" program.
400 people will enroll and they'll sign up to a 13 month weight loss program. During the first 7 months they're supposed to get down to their "goal" weight and then the next 6 months keep it off.
Those who lose and keep off 50lbs will receive 425 British pounds ($750 CAD, $600USD).
There has been at least one study that suggests financial incentives can help with weight loss efforts, but does that mean governments should get involved?
Personally I think if governments have money to throw at this problem they should throw it at prevention efforts rather than treatment as treatment is notoriously difficult and there is no gold standard program. If governments have money to throw at obesity throw it at developing better education in schools, public health campaigns on healthy weight management, legislation and consequent enforcement for things like posting calories on menus, proper prenatal nutrition courses, school breakfast, snack and lunch programs, etc.
My friend, colleague and co-blogger Dr. Arya Sharma goes further and on his blog has stated that,
"The idea of providing a financial incentive for weight loss reeks of weight bias and discrimination - Are we paying smokers to quite smoking and to never touch a cigarette again? Are we paying patients with diabetes to religiously measure their blood sugars and inject their insulins? Are we paying heart attack victims to exercise regularly and take their medications? Why single out patients with obesity for this kind of program?"Can't say I disagree with him.