The government is expanding access to weight loss services and may start giving people financial rewards for maintaining a healthy lifestyle as part of the fight against obesity.
The Department of Health and Social Care is giving the NHS and local councils in England £70 million to pay for up to 700,000 overweight or obese people to go on weight management courses, such as those provided by Weight Watchers or Slimming World, or work with a personal trainer to help them discard unwanted pounds.
Also, it asked Sir Keith Mills, the author of the Nector and air miles rewards scheme, to look into whether financial incentives would motivate people to eat better and exercise more.
He will look at whether initiatives such as the national step challenge in Singapore could work in England.
Citizens will be given cash payments if they do a certain amount of physical exercise, such as walking and running, and their progress will be measured through wearable devices.
Research printed in the British Medical Journal last year found that 1.6 million Singaporeans, 26 per cent of the population, had taken part in the government-backed scheme.
In return for undertaking certain numbers of steps, partakers received health points, which they could exchange for rewards worth up to US $10.
Downing Street has recently been examining the use of financial incentives to encourage people to lead healthier, more active lives and privately solicited the opinions of leading health charities, such as the British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK.
Boris Johnson, who has become set to undertake significant action against Britain’s obesity crisis after his stint in hospital last year with COVID, endorsed the latest government action on bulging waistlines.
Aides say that he’s slimmed down from a reported 108kg (17 stone) at the time he went into St Thomas’s hospital and is eating more healthily and taking regular exercise.
The Prime Minister said that losing weight was difficult, but that making little changes could make a huge difference.
He said that being overweight raised the risk of becoming ill with COVID and that if we all do our bit, we could lessen the health risks and also take the pressure off the NHS.
Katherine Jenner, the campaign director of Action on Sugar and Action on Salt, and an academic at the Queen Mary University of London said that whilst some useful weight management support services were essentially accessed through the NHS. Many were usually limited, underfunded and had long waiting lists.
But nothing seems to make people as obsessed with food as belonging to Slimming World and Weight Watchers. Of course, there’s the occasional success story, but it’s usually short-lived.
They don’t actually promote a healthy lifestyle, but calorie counting and an obsession with scales, and it’s a totally unhealthy relationship with food where it becomes the focus of everything.
At the same time they sell snacks et cetera that are packed with sugar to keep people addicted because of course, they wouldn’t want to run out of business if they made everyone thin.
Their plan is to use psychological tactics, where they’ll tell you that you can lose weight and still have some sins. That you can still eat the food that is bad for you, and still lose weight because they want you to lose the weight slowly so that you keep having to pay them for longer.
It also perpetuates the unhelpful way of believing that food is a reward, or depriving ourselves of something as a punishment, such as being good or being bad, and it’s a twisted way of thinking, but it also keeps you dependent on an external entity, almost like a cult, rather than finding the resilience and strength within to lose the weight.