Pounds gained for lbs lost: Overweight people could be paid to lose weight
23rd October 2014
obesityThe UK obesity crisis has reached such epic proportions – one in 4 Brits are now classified as obese – that the NHS are now throwing their weight behind a plan to reward people who successfully lose weight. Under proposed new plans, employers will be encouraged to offer incentives to employees who manage to shed the pounds, such as cash or shopping vouchers. The scheme will be aimed at relieving the huge financial strain on the NHS through the care for overweight or obese patients, and related health complications. New ways to try and tackle the growing problem of obesity comprise of just a few methods proposed in a “radical” overhaul of the country’s healthcare system proposed by the NHS for the next parliament. Tax cuts for volunteers and “breaking down the boundaries” between GPs and hospitals have also been discussed in the report by NHS England. However, it is not just work employees that are being encouraged to watch their waistlines, with NHS staff being urged to “set a national example” by adhering to healthier lifestyles. There are plans to prevent access to unhealthy food on NHS sites and monitor the health and wellbeing of NHS staff. The report also states that local authorities should be stricter on fast-food and alcohol outlets to improve the overall health of their community. “Put bluntly, as the nation's waistline keeps piling on the pounds, we're piling on billions of pounds in future taxes just to pay for preventable illnesses,” the report says. There could be a “severe consequences” for patients if the healthcare system is not revamped and improved according to officials, who are also pleading with an increase in funding from the next government. However, top doctor Clive Peedell said: “This policy will do nothing to help the millions of unemployed and the growing numbers of self-employed people who may need help but won’t qualify.” NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens commented: “We have no choice but to do this. If we do it a better NHS is possible, if we don't the consequences for patients will be severe.” Sir Bruce Keogh, national medical director of NHS England, said the NHS remains “one of the best healthcare systems in the world”, but stressed: “We've squeezed the orange really hard over the last four years. People working in the NHS are really beginning to feel the pressure.” Mr Stevens added that he believed a tax-payer funded health system has resulted in a "blind spot" with regards to the healthcare of employees, and that despite success in other countries abroad, workplace schemes to encourage workers to lose weight have been relatively ignored in this country. He said: “The principal point is that employers in many countries have developed voluntary schemes for their employees whereby for example you actually get cash back based on participation in Weight Watchers or other type schemes.” When quizzed as to what kind of rewards may be on offer, he said: “It could be shopping vouchers, it could be cash, it could be prizes”, adding that the rewards could be higher or lower for the person depending on how much weight had been shed. The NHS are considering “challenging” companies to introduce the schemes instead of offering them money. According to Mr Stevens obesity is “getting worse in some respects” highlighted childhood obesity as “a significant future health threat”. He said: “When your son or daughter starts primary school one in 10 children are obese. By the time they reach Year 6 that's doubled to one in five so something is going wrong with the way in which we are keeping our children healthy and setting them up for a good start in life.”