Should governments pay people to lose weight?
Posted by kathryn in Uncategorized
Concern over levels of obesity has led the Australian General Practice Network to propose a $170 subsidy be given to overweight people, to encourage them to take part in an accredited weight loss programme.
Individuals would be required to take part in a 12 week programme, with specific goals set for weight loss over that time. As reported on the ABC Dr Tony Hobbs from the AGPN says:
the proposal would help address Australia’s obesity problem by making it easier for people in lower-income brackets to get help. “We believe that this will go a long way to helping people get access to accredited weight loss programs where the people will be supported”
While the AMA have rejected the idea as a “flash in the pan initiative”, the plan is part of a pre-election wish-list the AGPN has presented to the government.
This reminds me of a story from a month ago, where people in the town of Varallo, in northern Italy would be paid to lose weight. This community-wide project was supported by Mayor Gianluca Buonanno.
“Lots of people are saying, ‘I really need to lose some weight but it’s really tough.’ So I thought, why don’t we go on a group diet?” said Buonanno, who said he was about 6 kg (13 pounds) overweight.
You know, I can’t make up my mind about this idea. Part of me is uncomfortable about people being paid to lose weight and wants to know why do we need financial incentives to live a heathier life? Is the idea of living a longer, healthier, happier life really not enough?
However, I’m also aware current initiatives are not working and it might be time to try something new?
But, is it really that easy to get people to lose weight? Get someone to follow a 12-week programme, pay them $170 and then they’ll be fine? There are already supportive programmes to assist with losing weight, however, their stats on participants keeping the weight off long-term are still not great. As one reader on the ABC’s site says:
My problem is being thought of as a burden to society. I actually work in the health industry and I weigh 130kg. Not something I am happy about. I don’t want money to lose weight. I want TIME. Working 50+ hours a week and being a full-time sole parent . . . I would much prefer assistance with childcare which is non-existant for high school children unless I pay a private company and I can’t afford that.
I’m really interested to know what you think of this idea? Would a financial incentive make it more likely you’d lose weight? Are you happy for your government to be spending money in this way? And what about all those people who are already maintaining a healthy weight? Let me know by leaving a comment below.