WIGAN workers could soon be given vouchers for losing weight in a new bid to tackle obesity.
NHS chiefs have announced plans to give funding for employers to dish out shopping vouchers and cash incentives to its staff to encourage healthy living,
Outlining the plans, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens pointed out that such schemes had been a success in America and he suggested incentives could vary depending on how much weight a worker lost and staff would be challenged to compete with each other.
Wigan Council already has its own incentive scheme – Lose Weight, Feel Great – which provides trained health advisors, offering tailored service, which can include a variety of schemes such as Slimming World classes and Trim Down, Shape Up.
Slimming experts in Wigan back the plan, but believe it should include unemployed people too.
Michelle Cusick, Slimming World consultant and team developer in Whelley, said: “We have already been doing something similar with Wigan Council’s Lose Weight, Feel Great.
“For example if anyone has a BMI of between 25 and 39.9 can get 12 weeks free Slimming World classes and activities. Within these 12 weeks we aim for people to lose five per cent of the start weight.
“It is a great idea as by people losing weight it could save the NHS billions of pounds, so I am happy it is being rolled in a similar way nationally. But I do think it is wrong that only workers can benefit.
“With Lose Weight, Feel Great, it doesn’t matter if people work or not. It should be rolled out to everyone, especially as unemployed people struggle to afford the help.
“For some people, losing weight is a money thing, in terms of going to the gym or eating healthily.
”If people realise they can eat healthily and it is cheaper than take-aways and junk food, they will be even better off financially.”