NHS trials cash bribes to help obese lose weight

Cash incentive for slimmers more effective than diets

A scheme being trialled by the NHS that rewards slimmers with cash or shopping vouchers could be more than twice as effective as diet plans, it is claimed.

Those who sign up to the programme, from a company known as Weight Wins, are paid if they lose a certain amount of weight and then keep it off for a period of three months or more, with payments increasing the more weight someone can shed.

on a 13-month “Pounds for Pounds” plan can be paid up to £425 for losing 50lb (23kg). Weight Wins is extending it to offer a maximum of £1,000 for a loss of 150lb, to be achieved and maintained over two years.

Preliminary results for 600 obese people found they lost an average of 14.4lb in six months. The typical diet programme leads to a loss of only around 5 per cent, the company’s founders say.

There are already similar pay-to-quit schemes to encourage people to stop smoking, while GPs can already refer seriously overweight people to dieticians or exercise classes that are subsidised by the NHS.

Weight Wins says that its cash rewards programme could save the NHS £1.7 billion in lifetime medical expenses for every million people taking part. A total of 31 million adults in Britain are now thought to be overweight or obese.

The National Obesity Forum said: ‘We would only support this if there was a proper randomised controlled trial that proved that weight was being kept off.’


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