In England, The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence has come up with a groundbreaking concept to improve the health of the country. They have proposed paying those with unhealthy habits, including those who are obese and smoke, to quit their addictions.
On 20-22 May 2010, NICE’s Citizens Council met to discuss the following question: In what circumstances are incentives to promote individual behaviour change an acceptable way of promoting the health of the public?
From the September 27, 2010 press release :
While this approach is not commonly used in the UK to improve areas of public health, the Council heard of examples where local incentive schemes had been piloted. These included an initiative to encourage pregnant women to stop smoking by offering supermarket vouchers, people receiving cash for losing agreed amounts of weight, and children being rewarded with toys in exchange for eating more fruit and vegetables.
The majority of the committee voted in favor of incentive schemes, providing that the following conditions were met: that incentives should never be redeemable for tobacco or alcohol; they are only offered to people who are committed to changing their addiction; cash incentives should be only offered as a last resort; the progress of participants is monitored extensively; and that the results of the efforts be scrutinized to determine efficacy.
Sir Michael Rawlins, chairman of NICE, has asked that the public weigh in on the proposed initiatives. “We clearly face several public health challenges in today’s society, some more obvious than others, and we must seek to improve these in ways that are likely to achieve the best health outcomes for those affected. The majority of the Council has voted in favour of the use of incentives under certain circumstances, but this clearly remains a divisive issue. We are now very keen to hear what the general public thinks about their conclusions.”
What do you think? Should the obese be paid cash to lose weight and get into shape?