Cash for weight loss plan mooted

Picture of a fat catGlorious news for some of us of certain persuasions - the National Institute for Clinical Health and Excellence (Nice) is proposing that the NHS should pay the overweight to lose their extra pounds. This is a great idea as it would free up more money for buying chocolate.
The proposal, about which they appear to be serious, also involves giving kids toys for eating fruit and veg. A pilot scheme, according to the Daily Mirror (see link below), saw overweight people being paid £425.


The same article points to another experiment in which women were given shopping vouchers if they gave up smoking whilst pregnant. It worked but 80% of them took up the weed again when the vouchers stopped.

This is where a read of the excellent book "Freakonomics" could have saved people a lot of time and effort. The premise is that everything can be boiled down to economic terms, risk/reward, that sort of thing, even moral issues.

So if you know your child could be harmed by your smoking that's a moral and practical issue, and a serious one. However, if someone intervenes and says they'll give you vouchers as long as you don't light up, you've substituted the moral imperative for something purely practical and indeed financial.

So when someone either has to continue receiving vouchers or forego cigarettes it's a more straightforward financial question than it was before. And if the vouchers are stopped after pregnancy, the incentive that tipped the balance against tobacco vanishes as well.


The same thing could well happen if this anti-fat campaign goes ahead. I'm personally three stone or so overweight. I've lost a stone over the last year (rapid weight loss in your mid-forties can be damaging) without any incentive other than understanding my increased risk of heart disease and diabetes, and wanting to feel and look a bit better. I'm aiming to continue with that.

But what if someone offers me money? I was only half joking at the beginning of this blog entry when I said I'd buy chocolate. OK, maybe not chocolate but on the list of things I'd do to celebrate losing three stone and being given a cash kiss-off, "take wife to expensive restaurant" or "buy champagne" loom all too large.

And therein are the calories...

Links (opens new windows)

Freakonomics blog
Daily Mirror article
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