Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Britain pays citizens $750 to lose weight


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).

My thoughts?

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.

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4 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:58 am

    As someone who's been going through weight loss for the first time ever over the last four months, I don't entirely disagree with this. Losing weight costs money - even for someone like me who's doing it on her own at home, it means, at the very least, several iterations of a new wardrobe. And odds are if we're losing weight and keeping it off, we are saving the government various health-care related costs down the road. So why not provide some sort of financial incentive or tax credit to compensate?

    Education can only be so effective and I have a hard time believing that pouring in gazillions of dollars into prevention and legislation will solve the problem. I know McDonalds every day is bad for me. I've known that since I was a kid. Smartening up about my weight and eating/exercise habits had nothing to do with any ads, education campaign or anything else. It had to do with me finally deciding the time was right to lose that extra 30 lbs - and you know, $700 might have helped me come to that decision a few years ago.

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  2. Theresa12:11 pm

    This makes me think of my first diet at age 9. My concerned aunt said she and I would diet together, I would lose 16 pounds and she would too. She would pay me $1.00 for each pound. I promptly agreed and went to my room and made a list of how much candy/pop I could buy with $16.00. $700.00 in cash won't make a permanent difference to anyone's waistline. Better to put that $700.00 towards a program that helps discover the individuals personal struggles with food.

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  3. why is it governments seem to make studid decisions nearly all the time.... I enjoyed the last half of the post i think you had some great ideas there Yoni on where that money could be better spent... the government should be providing prevention procedures....

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  4. I agree Yoni Great post, that money the government are using could well be better spent on any if not all of ideas you mentioned... why havn't they thought of this... they are meanr to be leading our country..

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