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Could you earn cash by losing weight?

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Written by: Emma Lunn
04/03/2021
A new ‘incentives and rewards’ approach could be used to tackle the UK’s obesity problem.

The government has set aside £100m to help those living with obesity to lose weight. More than £70m will be invested into weight management services that will be made available through the NHS and councils.

Services and support will include access to digital apps, weight management groups, individual coaches and specialist clinical support.

The remaining £30m will fund initiatives to help people maintain a healthy weight, including access to the free NHS 12-week weight loss plan app and continuing the successful Better Health marketing campaign to motivate people to make healthier choices.

Some of this money will go towards upskilling healthcare professionals to support those in early years and childhood with intervention and enhanced training packages, helping up to 6,000 children and families to lead healthy lives.

Sir Keith Mills, the creator of the Nectar and Airmiles reward schemes, has been appointed to advise on a new incentives and reward approach to encourage healthy behaviour.

An incentive programme could include a new ‘fit miles’ approach that will encourage people to eat better and move more.

The programme will draw on other schemes around the world, such as the ‘national step challenge’ in Singapore, a nationwide physical activity programme aimed at encouraging Singaporeans to do more physical activity as part of their daily lives with financial incentives.

The measures part of landmark obesity strategy published by Boris Johnson last July. Living with excess weight puts people at greater risk of serious illness or death from Covid-19, with risk growing substantially as body mass index (BMI) increases.

The government says evidence suggests weight management services can help people to adopt healthier behaviours, lose weight and improve their general wellbeing.

Dr Alison Tedstone, chief nutritionist at Public Health England, said: “Living with obesity can have a devastating impact on people’s health and wellbeing in so many ways, not least its link this year to the increased risk from Covid.

“This investment will greatly boost services for adults struggling with their weight and raising the profile of our Better Health campaign will help to support more people to make healthier choices.”

Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing board, said: “This new funding is a positive step and a reflection of our shared commitment with government to helping people of all ages achieve a healthier weight, by investing in prevention.

“Tackling obesity and helping their communities live healthier and more active lives is a top priority for councils. Sadly, the impact of unhealthy weight has been brought into sharper focus by the coronavirus pandemic.

“This extra investment in councils’ weight management services is recognition of their excellent work to date, allowing them to reach out and support more people. It is good this funding will be targeted, so that those areas most in need will receive the greatest support.

“Councils are keen to work in partnership with government and the NHS in building the case for weight management services. Sustainable, long-term funding is also needed to provide healthy lifestyle services, which will help reduce health inequalities and obesity rates.”

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