In a move that will probably cross the pond, the British government is actually paying it’s citizens to lose weight.

The governments Healthy Weight, Healthy Lives strategy consists of a series of projects run through the Well@Work scheme. This program, led by the British Heart Foundation offers rewards for workers who lose weight. One competition, called The Biggest Loser, awarded £130 ($260 approx.) in gift vouchers for the participant who lost the most weight.

The Government is investing £372 million ($725 million USD approx.) over three years to implement the strategy.

Sadly, a recent analysis of nine research studies which used financial incentives found there was no effect on weight after 12 months. Aberdeen University’s Health Services Research Unit said eating more fruit and vegetables was more effective than paying for weight loss.

However, Dr Ian Campbell, the medical director of Weight Concern, said work-based incentive schemes were a “win win” because the employer benefited from a workforce that was less likely to take time off sick, while employees improved their health. He said: “It might sound a bit desperate but we are desperate so we have to look at all these things.”

Another program for UK nurses (being run by American health care company Humana) “offers pedometers, access to personal trainers and vouchers for high street retailers as incentives to slim down. The scheme involves health information, motivational talks from health coaches and participants can upload data from their pedometers onto a computer to chart their progress”.

Humana spokesman Lee Phillips said: “This is the first time in the country we have got a programme like this running for hospital staff.

“The trust see this as being in line with the Government’s emphasis on health and wellness in the workplace and I think this will really take off with a lot of people – it is all about making people aware of their health.”

I guess time will tell. What do you think?