Get Paid to Lose Weight
By the wlr team
Do you like the sound of being paid to lose those excess pounds? Well, the NHS have actually tried that with a weight loss scheme where patients get paid up to £1800 to lose weight.
Run by the external firm Weight Wins, the NHS scheme offered a variety of financial incentives for losing the weight. Anything from £200 for losing two stone in five months, to almost £1800 for dropping 10 stone in 21 months.
Weight Wins were already offering a diet programme to which anyone could sign up, for a monthly fee, and be rewarded for each pound they lost. However, if they failed to register a loss, they could end up just losing pounds from their pockets.
Although initial results were promsing, NHS bosses were not impressed enough to roll out the scheme after the pilot.
48% of participants had significant weight loss, that is lost 5% or more of their starting weight. Estimated mean weight loss at 12 months was 4kg.
Speaking in the Telegraph an NHS spokesperson said the results were 'mixed' and three quarters of people dropped out before the end of the scheme despite the financial incentive on offer.
The Weight Wins company was dissolved in 2016, so it seems unlikely that their programme was successful for paying clients.
At wlr we do offer an incentive for some new starters, but it's more to encourage the crucial first few weeks usage of the programme and is only £10. You can try wlr free.
Where and How Was the Scheme Trialled?
The scheme was piloted in the Eastern and Coastal Kent Primary Care Trust. Though there were hopes it would be rolled out across the country.
The Primary Care Trust paid £185 for every person who enrolled in the scheme, and all pay outs were covered by Weight Wins.
If weight loss targets were not met, slimmers didn't receive financial rewards. Patients also had to show that they could maintain their new weight and not put the pounds back on!
The scheme was aimed at those who are overweight, rather than those who are obese or those who would benefit from surgery.
There were around 400 places on the programme which was heavily over-subscribed with around 2000 applicants.
Do 'Pounds for Pounds' Schemes Work?
Similar trials have been carried out in the USA. One study, published in The Journal of the American Medical Association, carried out a 16-week trial to see whether those who were motivated by a financial incentive were more likely to lose the weight.
Findings showed that those groups motivated by the prospect of a financial reward were significantly more successful than the control group who were offered no monetary reward.
Dietitian Lyndel Costain BSc RD suggests that "Whilst this scheme did show a positive outcome in the short-term, who knows how effective it would be in 2-5 years time, for example.
"Like all weight loss approaches, there will be a subset for whom this works well, but not for all or even the majority. Furthermore, we have to question whether people would be making the mindset changes required for long-term weight management or if they are just focusing on short-term rewards."
Fast Food vs. Financial Reward
Publicity for the scheme drew fire from various media due to the increase in hospitals renting out space to fast food restaurants. Pop to your local NHS Hospital and you might well be able to pick-up a Burger King along with your prescription!
Critics say this runs contrary to bids to tackle the ever rising presence of obesity and obesity-related diseases in the UK. Furthermore, fast food is full of fat and salt, and something that healthy slimmers tend to avoid.
But whilst photos appear of a woman on a drip ordering at a fast food counter in Cambridge’s Addenbrookes Hospital, the National Obesity Forum suggest that the message seems to be that the NHS is “effectively endorsing” fast food, not weight loss.
Most hospitals have cleaned up their food offerings in recent years, though Costa Coffee seems to have survived in many locations It appears that the last surviving hospital based Burger King is at Addenbrookes, maybe because it's going to cost £1 million to boot them out.
Learn how to lose weight healthily with the tools on WLR. Use your WLR Food Diary to see how many calories you need per day to get to your weight loss goal. Try it Free for 24 hours.
The ‘Pounds for Pounds’ weight loss financial incentive scheme: an evaluation of a pilot in NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent, Journal of Public Health
NHS 'should pay people' to lose weight, The Telegraph
Hospital bosses face £1MILLION bill for kicking Burger King out of last NHS site in the Mirror