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Lose to win: British National Health Service offers money to OBESE men to DROP THE POUNDS
By Ava Grace // May 22, 2024

The United Kingdom's National Health Service (NHS) has initiated a pilot project that offers cash incentives to obese men if they lose weight.

The project was dubbed "Game of Stones" – with its name referencing the TV show "Game of Thrones" and the British imperial unit of mass called stone, which is equivalent to 14 pounds. Obese men who joined the program would receive £400 ($508.40) to drop the pounds. If they failed to reach the target weight, the amount of cash they would receive would be reduced.

Trial participants were given an initial £50 ($63.55) if they lost five percent of their body weight within three months. Another £150 ($190.65) was given to those who lost 10 percent of their body weight within six months. A final £200 ($254.20) was awarded to those who kept their weight down for another six months.

Under the scheme, men receive daily text messages with tips – such as suggesting alternative routes home to bypass fast food outlets – to promote healthier behaviors and encourage weight loss. The participants were weighed four times a year to ensure they stuck to the target.

The initial trial for Game of Stones involved 585 participants from the cities of Belfast in Northern Ireland, Bristol in England and Glasgow in Scotland. According to the results presented at the European Congress on Obesity, the motivational messages helped participants lose an average of 4.8 percent of their body weight within a year. (Related: Diabetes and obesity drugs linked to thyroid cancer.)

The scheme took advice on board from men about the kind of texts they would find useful and encouraging. "We used men's language so they were very definitely designed with men for men," researchers said.

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Participants also received inspirational texts about the efforts of fellow slimmers. Such texts contained messages like, "Alex said he didn't want to treat his body like a skip anymore" and "David found it helpful to walk a different route home from work so that he wasn't tempted into his favorite takeaway."

Game of Stones a cheaper method to address obesity

"Losing weight can make people feel better, reduce their risk of many health problems such as diabetes, and helps the health service with their aim to keep men well," said Professor Pat Hoddinott of the University of Stirling, who led the trial. "However, we know men often don't like to go to traditional weight loss groups."

"The research showed that offering cash incentives was a popular and effective way of helping men to lose weight. This initiative would be a low-cost solution for the health service to offer to men, requiring only four short weight appointments, and with money paid out only at the end to those who lose over five percent of their starting weight."

While the NHS still has no plans to roll out the scheme across the country, British Obesity Society President Jane DeVille-Almond lauded the Game of Stones trial and its results.

"This is exciting news and we definitely need an easy and cost-effective way of getting society to lose weight," she said. "Men are a particularly difficult group to engage in our healthcare system, so texts and financial incentives is a great way forward."

The NHS trial, funded by the government health investment body National Institute for Health and Care Research, has been celebrated as a potentially low-cost and effective solution to male obesity management, requiring a minimal number of weight check appointments and aligning payouts with successful results.

Like many Western nations, the U.K. is plagued by an obesity epidemic. Last year, a research paper predicted that an estimated 1.3 billion people will have diabetes by the year 2050.

Check out FightObesity.news for more stories like this.

Watch Dr. Tony Hampton explaining how fixing one's diet prevents many serious diseases in the clip below.

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