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Slimmers' bribes will be a big fat flop.

Byline: CAROLE MALONE

There have been some crazy, crackpot schemes to fight obesity but the NHS's latest offering takes the biscuit. In his new report, health boss Simon Stevens says firms should get government funding to "bribe" staff to lose weight.

These bribes would take the form of shopping vouchers, cash or prizes.

So here's how my devious mind works... Say I'm not fat enough for this scheme but I'm a bit skint. Why don't I just shovel in a few more cakes, another shedload of pizza - and I'm a dead cert for a Christmas bonus.

How stupid is that? Even more stupid - and much more important - is that jobless people won't qualify for this scheme even though there's plenty of research to show obesity is more prevalent among the longterm unemployed.

And there are two reasons for that. One, because of lack or money or education, these are the people who mostly buy junk food. And two, they're the ones sitting at home all day in front of the telly scoffing it because they've got nothing better to do.

But this is all besides the point. I know fatties are costing the health service up to PS30billion a year. I know obesity is one of our biggest killers. But rewarding people for stuffing their faces is not the way to go.

And you'd think the numpties running the NHS would know that. You'd think being on six-figure salaries they'd be smart enough to know the answer is people taking responsibility for their own bodies. It's them learning how to say no to food they know will kill them. It's not being nannied into believing their health is the State's problem.

Bribery isn't the long term solution here.

It's just a sticking plaster dreamt up by people who haven't a clue why others get fat.

It's no coincidence Simon Stevens is skinny. I suspect the people who helped him come up with this barmpot idea are also skinny.

So when they are formulating policy about fat people don't they ever bother talking to any of them? Don't they ever look at why people are eating themselves into an early grave? Because if they did, they'd see that bribing them with cash after a lifetime of binge eating isn't the answer. Many fat people are fat precisely because they've been bribed before. With food. By their parents - to shut them up, to make them feel loved or because they were being a nuisance.

And make no mistake, fatties - and I speak as one - are clever. We lie. We'd tell those bosses paying us to lose weight that we're just eating chicken and vegetables when we're actually shovelling down doughnuts like there's no tomorrow.

We'd say we had a slow metabolism and couldn't understand why the weight wasn't shifting but please give us the money anyway because we need it.

And who's going to police this scheme? How much will it cost? And what happens if people lose weight and put it all back on? Will they have to pay the money back? I doubt it. So that'll be more NHS cash that could have saved a few cancer patients wasted.

Stevens also says "something is going wrong" because when kids start primary school 10 per cent of them are obese. But by the end of it 20 per cent are.

Bleedin' Nora! EVERYONE knows what's going wrong. Childhood obesity is a parenting problem, NOT a health problem. Kids who are fat are made fat by parents who are lazy, stupid or trying to buy their children's affection with food.

Give him his due, Stevens had some good ideas in his report. But if, as he claims, obesity is crippling the NHS then he needs to know a whole lot more about what makes people get fat. And until he does, his chances of doing anything about it are zero.

Many obese people are fat because they've been bribed before. With food.
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Title Annotation:Features; Opinion Column
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Oct 26, 2014
Words:660
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