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Loosing weight would help Britons to fill up their wallets. The UK public health service, the NHS, wants to encourage companies to reward employees who shed extra kilos and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
The initiative is part of a plan to tackle an NHS funding shortfall that is forecast to hit £30 billion ($48 billion) by 2020.
NHS executives plan to ask the cash-strapped government for £8 billion, but the rest will have to come from savings, including reducing spending on weight-related illness.
It may be learnt that almost two thirds of English adults are overweight or obese, with low income groups’ worst affected.
Only a handful of countries, including the U.S., Mexico and Australia have higher obesity rates.
Employees who manage to control their unhealthy habits could be offered cash, shopping vouchers or prizes. The NHS declined to comment on the likely size of the incentives, but said some of the funding could come from taxpayers.
According to the World Health Organization overweight people are more at risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, degenerative joint diseases and some cancers.
There’s evidence that dangling a juicy carrot works. A study by the Mayo Clinic, ranked the best U.S. hospital in 2014, found that 62% of obese people offered $20 a month succeeded in meeting their weight loss targets.
The NHS proposal follows similar efforts by companies in the U.S. to encourage their workers to get fit.
The initiative hopes to save money and reduce the number of sick days people take. Sickness-related absence costs UK employers and taxpayers about $35 billion a year, the NHS said.