obesity in the uk
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Obesity in the UK: Government could pay overweight Brits to exercise as part of £100m drive

COVID complications are more severe in the overweight

In a bid to tackle to obesity crisis in the UK, the government could consider paying Brits to exercise and lose weight.

Around 63% of adults in the UK are considered to be either obese or overweight.

A third of children starting secondary school fall into the same category.

And, with increased weight linked to more severe COVID-19 complications, the government has plunged £100 million into a new health campaign.

boris johnson running
Boris Johnson went on a fitness drive after contracting coronavirus (Credit: Shutterstock)

Could paying people really tackle obesity in the UK?

Nectar card founder Sir Keith Mills will soon advise MPs on how to use incentives and rewards to encourage Brits to follow healthier diets and do more physical activity.

It’s said Mills will look at schemes from around the world which have been successful.

Read more: Face masks and social distancing could be scrapped as lockdown eases

The step challenge in Singapore, for example, succeeded in getting people fit and eating better.

It got people moving by offering them “health points” for every step taken.

This was then translated into a monetary incentive.

It’s thought this type of scheme could be rolled out in the UK to tackle obesity, should it be recommended by Mills.

obesity in the uk
The government could consider paying Brits to lose weight (Credit: Pexels)

Where has the money for the scheme come from?

The government has pledged £100m package to fight obesity.

More than £70m will go to councils and the NHS for weight management services.

Read more: Matt Hancock offers vaccine timeline update in Downing Street briefing

This would give around 700,000 people access to slimming clubs like WW or Slimming World.

Losing weight is hard, but making small changes can make a big difference.

The other £30m will be used on other initiatives.

So what has Boris Johnson said about the obesity drive?

The PM was hospitalised for coronavirus himself last year and, as a result, decided to shape up once he was on the road to recovery.

He said at the time: “Losing weight is hard, but making small changes can make a big difference.

“If we all do our bit, we can reduce our own health risks – but also help take pressure off the NHS.

“This funding will give extra support to people across the country who want to lose weight too.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock reiterated his comments.

He said: “The urgency of tackling obesity has been brought to the fore by evidence of the link to an increased risk from COVID-19.

“So it’s vital we take action on obesity to protect the NHS and improve our nation’s health.”

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