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Everyone knows Fatties Hate Carrots

January 25, 2008

An article in the TimesOnline entitled “Cash Carrot for obese people to lose pounds” states that the UK is considering providing a financial incentive for individuals to lose wieght.

The new strategy to tackle poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyles includes the suggestion that people should receive financial rewards or shopping vouchers for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.

Fabulous, so do people who are underweight get paid for gaining weight as well? And what happens when the inevitable happens and the weight returns or disappears? Do they then OWE the government money? This article is Obesity Hysteria at its finest:

Obesity is linked to an increased risk of cancer, heart and liver disease and diabetes but in Britain nearly a quarter of adults and nearly a fifth of children are obese after increases in the last decade. It is predicted that 60 per cent of men, 50 per cent of women and 25 per cent of children could be obese by 2050 if action is not taken.

There is an important statistical rule that is often broken when we look at projections like these. Today is not an accurate predictor of tomorrow. If something is (allegedly) increasing at a rate of 10% a year now that does not necessarily mean that that trend will continue. In fact it is highly unllikely. The only way that many people will be obese by 2050 is if they change the definition of obesity (again).

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One Comment
  1. Coffee and Cocktails permalink

    I saw this story on the Daily Mail or somewhere… you’re right, the practical problems with the idea are quite simply enormous, completely putting aside the moral issues!

    I think if the government wants to throw money at something to encourage people to be healthy (and I’m not necessarily convinced that they do), they need to peg it to lifestyle rather than to weight, which (as we know) is just humiliating, condescending, and doesn’t solve any particular problem.

    One thing I’ve heard proposed that could be interesting is for the government to offer financial incentives to businesses to offer / subsidise ALL of their employees (not just the fat ones! Haha) good, hearty, nutritious food.

    I would be all for that… in my job, we work some really early mornings, and overnight shifts as well as day shifts, and we sometimes don’t get much in the way of break time – and after hours, there are no food places open nearby.

    So we end up either eating complete shit, or not eating at all on a night shift if we didn’t bring something with us… I know our company can’t afford to subsidise food for us, but if the government was to give them a helping hand, I know I would be the happiest wee journo alive if I could have a nice hot stirfy on a night shift. Just a thought.

    Shit, that was almost a post in itself. Sorry!

    Anyway, I like the statistical analysis stuff. You should do more of that – I think a lot of people are scared to try and do it, because numbers are hard (for most of us) 😀

    I like the blog, by the way. Thanks for alerting me to it.

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