Today the newspapers are discussing radical plans that could mean the NHS would tackle the obesity crisis in the UK by providing employers with funding to incentivise staff to slim down and lose weight.
The chief executive of NHS England said that the schemes are very common in America – and have been a success, “Employers in many countries have voluntary schemes for employees where, for example, you actually get cash back based on participation on weight loss schemes.”
“It could be shopping vouchers, it could be cash, it could be prizes.”
But the incentives could set the NHS back with a hefty amount – especially in the light of massive cuts to the health service and uncertain future with recent government discussions.
The NHS currently spends £5bn a year treating obesity-related illnesses.
Critics have commented that the scheme has many flaws.
Dr Clive Peedell said: “It fails to address the long-term and crucial issue of keeping the weight off. Just offering cash incentives or vouchers fails to address the reasons people find it hard to lose weight.”
“Overweight people need support and advice, not the lure of a reward.”
Dr Jacquie Lavin, Head of Nutrition and Research at Slimming World says that the organisation welcomes the renewed focus and emphasis on helping, encouraging and incentivising NHS staff and employers to promote healthy lifestyles.
“Lifestyle weight management organisations with an extensive network of community based groups across the country are best placed to support doctors and nurses both in their own struggles with weight as well as support their patients. The biggest role for health professionals lies with raising the issue of weight with patients sensitively and in motivating those who struggle with their weight to want to make sustainable lifestyle changes.
“Acknowledging that the NHS cannot work alone and must work in partnership with a wide range of organisations across all sectors is a huge step forward in tackling obesity together.”