People who get paid to lose weight are more successful in dropping the pounds than those with no financial incentive. This is the conclusion reached by Winton Rossiter, chief executive of the private programme Weight Wins.
On average, the people who completed one year on the incentive programme lost 25 pounds, twice as much as dieters on non-paying regimens. The results, however, are rather controversial.
Of the 745 people who signed up for the scheme, about half were paid through the NHS; the rest joined on their own and paid a monthly fee of £10 or more. Mr. Rossiter says that he is so confident in the success of this financial incentive approach that he is willing to guarantee results.
He cited the number of participants who lost a significant amount of body weight, and believes that the scheme should be adopted by the NHS and employers as a major weapon against obesity in Britain.
Critics of the plan have noted that more than half of those who originally signed up, whether paying or non-paying, dropped out within a few months. They also noted that a large percentage of dieters do not stick to their programme after the incentive period is over, so the results are not definitive.
The argument boils down to whether or not NHS should spend money on rewarding those who succeed in losing weight as opposed to investing more in prevention of weight gain in the first place. Since the health service is planning to cut expenditures in the next 5 years, it is questionable whether funds designated for incentive programmes will be balanced by a reduction in the ongoing cost of treating health problems caused by overweight.