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The big question: should NHS staff be offered incentives to lose weight?


NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens is considering plans to introduce weight-loss competitions to staff in the health service.

More gyms are to be built and NHS sites will become increasingly cycle friendly, while prizes such as pedometers will be on offer for staff who shed the pounds, The Sun newspaper has reported.

Promising to tackle the obesity problem, Mr Stevens told The Sun: “It’s hard for the NHS to talk about how important this is if we don’t get our own act together. I think the NHS has got to take an example in helping our own staff and hopefully other employers will follow suit.”

Would trust incentives such as weight loss competitions motivate you to lose weight?


Readers' comments (6)

  • Why should obese health care professionals get rewards for losing weight and becoming a healthy weight, when health care professionals who are already a health weight get nothing for already being an example of a healthy weight!

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  • These is so typical of our times! we created the problem and then invent "cures" to treat the symptoms rathern then eliminating the causes: obesity is the result of the food industry, advertisement and the culture of "indulge in everything, that's ok". The food industry with their eccessive use of sugar and the highly processed industrial food is the real cause. Education also play a role.

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  • I would also like to add that obesity is not just about calories in-calories out.

    I am happy to support those who are overweight and want to lose excess weight, and I will support this idea when....

    ...the NHS admits that stress is a major factor in the way the body reacts, often leading to weight gain in many stressed people, which nursing teams are, and addresses this by recruiting more nursing staff.

    ...When the NHS reviews the Thyroid TSH testing panels, which I am held hostage to. Apparently I am 'normal' (which is far from optimal for me), yet if I moved elsewhere in the world, I would be treated for hypothyroidism. I look at many overweight people and recognise that they are actually sick, not lazy or greedy. The signs of hypothyroidism are there, and this really angers me that people are being left like this, yet blamed and scorned for not 'eating less and moving more'. Disgusting. Many have wrote to the NHS begging for T3 and/or alternative treatment seeing as T4 and the amounts given are useless for many of those who are 'lucky' enough to be treated by the NHS. We just want to be heard, and to feel well again. We get ignored. This is abuse flat out. Thankfully we have some pioneering Drs out there who are helping those the NHS have left to rot, and my life has some hope again as I embark on treatment outside of my own country. I have some success at losing a few pounds which would never come off even if I was on a calories deficit eating low fat.

    ...when the NHS stop promoting a diet to diabetics that keeps them dependent on medication, and makes it difficult for them to lose weight, or help their condition. The only winners are those who sell diabetic equipment and medication.

    ...when the NHS admits that birth control is seriously messing with a lot of womens hormones, not only making them feel depressed and unlike their true selves, but the management of their weight is a futile affair, and that birth control can induce ridiculous cravings for refined carbs, of which such foods have addictive additives thrown in. Of course this is then implied that its the womans fault for being 'weak'. I quit BC years ago. Never looked back.

    ...when the NHS reviews the paltry RDA% of all vitamins and minerals. Sometimes I wonder why these minimums even bother to suggest these amounts. With factory farming depleting soils of nutrients, with toxic chemicals in basically every modern furnishing, appliance and yes, lots of foods, we are poisoning ourselves and wonder why most of the populace is a sickly, bloated, cancerous, mess. We need greater amounts of nutrients these days sadly, not the bare minimum. Only then can our body function and begin to heal, instead of bumbling along, trying to work on too little.

    Why isnt the NHS standing up against all of this? Is the NHS more for the shareholders and drug companies or is it truly about improving the health of the people?

    One thing I know from personal experiences with myself and others, is that allopathic medicine and the approach towards disease is not working for many. Why not?

    I read on so many forums about real people struggling to lose weight or inches when following the low fat, low sugar diet. They religiously are doing aerobic activity, following their drs and dieticians recomendations. They have been educated in nutrition alright, but no-one is actually looking at the credibility of the information that is shared.

    Of course there are those who will eat and do what they want even when presented with correct information, and given access and choice to correct treatment, and its frustrating and maddening but ultimately that is their life and choice.

    But lets not tar all overweight people with that brush, there certainly IS something more going on here, and until we start looking at this with a different mindset and fresh eyes, this problem is only going to get worse. The saddest thing is the quality of life for people overweight and yet really trying to be healthy, is not there in its fullest sense.

    The 'experts' may have to admit that they were wrong about what they thought constituted a healthy lifestyle. I can admit that what I was taught, and what I followed was not beneficial in terms of weight management. I am re-learning 30 years of what I was taught, to applying today, what works for me now. And its not what the NHS recommends unfortunately. But I am happier within myself, and I am doing sports (mountain biking and body boarding)that get me out in nature to de-stress and to give my body a good work out. I am taking new supplements under the guidance of a Dr who believes in holistic care. I am feeling much, much better. The only remaining niggle is this excess weight I so want to see gone.

    Do you think I like being an overweight healthcare worker? ;)

    I am all for support, but support that is up to date with the true reality of the underlying reasons for weight issues these days.

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  • Anonymous | 11-Aug-2014 1:46 pm

    A truly magnificent RANT !

    Are you really a "health care worker" ?

    If so, maybe some structured reading based on evidence based medicine/nursing would fill in the blanks.

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  • It seems that today's politically sensitive society is barred from making comments on race, culture, sexuality or gender choice. However when size comes in to it then it's an open field! Albeit subtle, this isn’t about health it's about image; nobody wants to see a fatty at the helm really do they? So let's encourage the fatties to lose weight and improve the image of NHS! I would rather that investment was made in car parking to provide free places for staff, unless of course it is two miles away from the place of work to encourage exercise. I would rather that Healthcare staff are educated rigourously about smoking; as a patient I would rather be nursed by a larger person than one who smells of old ashtrays! I would rather the NHS built and afforded totally free childcare facilities local to all services; now that would raise morale! Let’s hope that best intention is really at the forefront of this; but green remains my colour and that’s jaded not jealous!

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  • Incentives possibly but competition??? Competition is what's killing this healthcare service, stop with all the competing bull***. Collaboration, support and investment are solutions, taking care of people, staff and patients. We're not performing monkeys.

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