Pay Fat People to Lose Weight?

After skimming over my Bloglines today, I ran across this article with a shocking announcement that was part of a wish list proposed by the [TAG-TEC]Australian General Practice Network[/TAG-TEC].Obesity Epidemic

A doctors group has proposed that overweight people be given a $170 subsidy to attend an accredited weight-loss program.

“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.” -Dr Tony Hobbs, Australian General Practice Network

This group believes it will go a long way to helping cure the [TAG-TEC]obesity[/TAG-TEC] problem by getting overweight people the education they need to lead a healthy lifestyle. And at the end of the 12 weeks, they would be measured to ascertain their progress.


Let’s assume you pay people to lose weight. They get to take some classes that are offered at a community center or health care facility. This isn’t free folks. Somebody is footing the $170 and the bills to pay the educators, open the center, provide the materials and educate the individuals.

We hardly do this for people who smoke, drink or have too many children they cannot take of and that costs billions a year in terms of related health care costs and social services.

After doing a survey of 10,000 people, found the #1 reason people didn’t seek to improve their health or continue to workout was…

Lack of Motivation.

I hardly think $170 subsidized by a section of a private health care industry is significant motivation to cause a stampede of people to devote 12 weeks of their lives to curing their obesity. And what defines obesity that a person would quality for this?

If I use the [TAG-TEC]BMI[/TAG-TEC] (body mass index) in the United States, I’m technically obese. I’d go for the money and be on a forced cutting diet to lean up. Is that fair even if I don’t need it?

As “Bruce” said in a comment from for the original article, “Perhaps just pay thin people not to get fat?”

Shouldn’t we reward people for being thinner? Not the other way around. How about a subsidized gym membership as an incentive to keep working out?

The solution is to find what motivates people on their individual basis.

Heck [TAG-TEC]Richard Simmons[/TAG-TEC] really seemed to care about his clients. He was involved in their lives. He got to know them. He wanted to help them. He didn’t give up and it took longer than 12 weeks thru some government program. His motivation and the drive of his clients wasn’t based on some $170 as motivation.

I have no problems with more information being made to the public. I try my hardest to provide what I believe is good education to my readers, subscribers and customers in hopes they will make informed choices. I’d rather see the $170 spend on a per person basis for useful consumer health education and awareness campaigns vs. just paying somebody a little bit of money, sending them to some class for only 12 weeks and then most likely dropping the ball.

What do you think?

Should we pay people to lose weight? Is that the cure to the obesity epidemic?

If you enjoyed this article, get email updates (it's free).

8 Responses to "Pay Fat People to Lose Weight?"

  1. Sarah:
    December 11, 2012 08:20 pm

    Having had a loss of income – for many different reasons, and it’s on the right track again, upwards – I know first hand why low-income and obesity go hand in hand: food prices!

    Sure the price of real food (read non-processed) isn’t really that high, but somehow the cuts of meat I used to buy on a higher income weren’t accessible on the lower budget. Forget organic or free-range, grass-fed, even wild game meats; vegetables and fruit were from the packages of low-prices almost-too-ripe-to-sell leftovers …

    In fact, the “diet” would often consist of a large part of pasta and just a little meat in canned tomato soupy consistency for flavour!

    So yes, lower income = overweight.

    Paying people to get motivated? I don’t think that’s the real issue. Lowering the price of healthy raw-material foods and raising the price of processed stuff, sounds like a much better idea to me. And the producers of the crap should be happy, no? They’d get more money coming in … IF people keep buying the stuff that is.

    “But I don’t know how to cook” – no one is born knowing how to cook. Open a book, follow the instructions, fail a few times, figure it out. With home made, healthy, digestible foods our bodies can use for energy, we’ll automatically get more active, and stop craving the addictive additives in the nutrition-poor processed stuff.

    Just saying

    Leave a reply  
  2. John:
    December 08, 2008 05:15 pm

    Okay I understand where your coming from. But, have you watched the tv show “the biggest loser”? Have you seen how some of those people wanted to lose weight and couldn't have if they didn't have that program to change their lives? I have you seen the ones that changed into productive members of society? There are lots of people out there just like that , that want to be a part of the world. They don't have the money to do it on their own. Don't you see how this could help?

    Leave a reply  
  3. September 12, 2007 05:15 pm

    Again, thanks to I found a U.S. study that showed the following:

    Financial incentives can encourage weight loss, research finds

    Finkelstein and researchers from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill studied more than 200 overweight or obese employees in North Carolina.

    A third of the participants received no financial reward for their weight loss after three months; another third were given $7 for every 1 percent drop in their body weight; the final third were given $14 for every 1 percent decrease. The participants did not follow a specific diet and fitness program.

    Participants in the $14 group were than five times more likely to lose 5 percent of their body weight, according to the findings, printed in September’s Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

    Here’s the full USA Today article:

    Leave a reply  
  4. Diem:
    September 12, 2007 11:14 pm

    I have no opinion on whether this will make a difference in Australia or not, but it is worth putting this in context: Australia has socialised healthcare that is paid for by a proportion of everyone’s taxes, and there IS similar help available for smokers, drinkers etc. here. If this helps even a small number of people lose their excess fat, that money will be saved downstream by not having to pay for treatment of obesity related illness out of the same socilaised healthcare funds that the $170 will come from. The only thing I think is a bit weird about it is that it sounds as though the cash will be handed over rather than doctor and paitent together selecting an appropriate accessible fat loss program.

    Leave a reply  
  5. Making the Best Celebrity Fitness Blog:
    September 12, 2007 07:27 pm

    Losing weight is not as hard as many make it out to be. I have a few moves that you do daily that for some reason cause the fat to fall off…I also have one way to change what you do everytime you sit down to eat which WILL make you lose weight. Check out my blog…all the proof is there under the action photos!

    Work Hard,
    Ahmad Baari, C.P.T.

    Leave a reply  
  6. Sarah, CPT:
    September 12, 2007 03:40 pm

    Crazy! Possibly even worse than the biggest loser!

    Guess what I just heard from a client in Norway this morning … there is
    talk (serously) of banning :
    - flat screen TVs
    - cell phones
    - PC screens
    A total of 18 technical products. Reason given: environmental poising.

    Yet they have NO PLANS of banning trans fats, artificial coloring,
    artificial sweeteners, “light” products, fattening and debilitating “foods”.
    Make sense to you? Not to me, and not to my client either. The trouble with
    Norway, is that if the government says “this is how it’s going to be” people
    will grumble in their himes, but publicly just shrug and say “well, that’s
    the way it is”. A flock of sheep.

    Just goes to show though, governments are crazy!

    Sarah, CPT

    Leave a reply  
  7. Viki:
    September 12, 2007 03:30 pm

    Ok, I know a lot of people think this a dumb idea, but step back and look at the big picture. Obsity is more common among people of lower income more often those of middle or upper incomes. To me this incentive sounds like a way to help those who couldn’t afford to get help losing weight.

    Also the quotes says “A doctors group has proposed that overweight people be given a $170 subsidy to attend an accredited weight-loss program.”

    The defination of a subsidy is, “Monetary assistance granted by a government to a person or group in support of an enterprise regarded as being in the public interest.”

    This money is either designed to help pay for the weight loss program or the cost associated with it. For example, trying out healthy new foods, a good pair of shoes for excercising, or equipment like a bike, rebounder or excercise video that makes workout more fun.

    Sure if they give the money directly to the individual some people will missuse it, but governments always put rules and regulation on programs like this to reduce the amount of abuse.

    In addition to that, if these people that go to through the weight loss programs and get the $170 incentive actually do lose weight, even just 20lbs they will save the health care system tons of money in the long run.

    To give you an example I’ll use myself. I’m type 2 diabetic and I have to spend over $200 in supplies and medication each month, and that’s buying them at Walmart, if I had to get them at Walgreen or some where else, I’d spend twice that, if not more.

    If I don’t take care of myself someday I will get so sick that I won’t be able to work, and the government will have to take care of me. Even if the cost of my supplies and medications didn’t increase that’s $200 a month, plus doctors visits, plus disablity payments, etc, etc, etc…

    A one time investment of $170 from the government when I was in my early 20 to help me lose weight and teach me how to keep it off and led a healthy lifesytle would have been money well spent.

    When I was 20 I thought the only problem with being overweight was that I wasn’t the American image of beauty. Well I didn’t want to be beautiful. I wants to be liked for who I was, not what I looked like. I was hiding years of abuse and neglect under the weight. Food was my only comfort when I was hurting because the people I grew up with where evil.

    No one wants to be overweight, not really. Most people who are seriously overweight, have bad habits and can’t change them without some support. Others, especially women are hiding under their weight. Many overweight people feel trapped inside their body, a prisoner to cravings they don’t understand and can’t resist.

    Sure will power works for awhile, but when stress builds up and our will power fails and we fall back on the habits that helped us cope in the past, unless we have the support and knowledge to try new things.

    This $170 subsidy is a small price to pay when compared to the long term cost of obesity.

    Leave a reply  
  8. Shawn:
    September 12, 2007 02:36 pm

    This is a bandaid solution to a bigger problem imo. If I lived in Australia, I’d be one of those folks offered that 170 dollars. Knowing now through reading, researching and talking with people, that 170 dollars is best spent in an education enviroment accessible to everyone just not a specific targeted slice of society. This would both prevent and help lower obesity.

    There would be more then one person with a beer gut that would abuse the system, simply take the 170 and run or nod off in the required seminars and be done with it.

    The money would be better spent opening, for lack of a better description, a government funded fitness program where people could not only use facilities but get counselling with an educated staff. People that genuinely wanted to become fit could seek out the program and gain it’s benefits. The old saying “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink” applies here.

    I realize that overweight folks are sometimes a tax on the healthcare system, but imo it’s coming to to a point where personal accounability has coming into the picture. People genuinely have to want to change and better themselves. That has to come within an person and cannot be dictated by anyone including the government.

    Leave a reply  

Leave a NO BULL Comment with Facebook