Archive for February 25, 2009

Should Overweight Citizens be Financially Rewarded for Exercise?

According to this weekend’s edition of Parade magazine a number of countries are coming up with inventive ways to fight obesity.

In Japan, health officials are measuring the waists of citizens over 40 and asking overweight individuals to undergo diet counseling. In Germany the government is spending $47 million on healthy-eating, sports programs and tougher nutritional standards for school lunches. The government is also “asking candy makers to stop targeting young children and encouraging software companies to develop games that force players to move.”

While some countries are trying to assist their current citizens, others are combating the financial and health issue by closing their doors on the obese. New Zealand, for example, bans people it deems too fat from immigrating to the country in the first place.

Great Britain is taking a more interesting approach. The country is currently recruiting overweight individuals to wear electronic tags that calculate how much they move and how many calories they burn. As an incentive to exercise the participants are rewarded with store coupons and extra days off work.

This approach seems to be an innovative extension of preventative care. The government hopes to pay a little money now to get people into shape, so that it can avoid paying a lot of money later on obesity related diseases.

It’s certainly an original solution to fighting the epidemic of obesity. The question is this… Is money and/or time off enough incentive to exercise? I bet a lot of individuals would be interested in the money, while others would be more attracted by an extra day off work, but would either incentive provide individuals with enough motivation to actually rise off of the couch?

Either way I can certainly see why Great Britain is willing to give this a try. After all if the individuals don’t exercise there should be little cost involved and if they do exercise it could save the country a lot of money.

February 25, 2009 at 1:00 AM 10 comments


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