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Money can can work where willpower fails…

Is it just me or is there something wrong with paying people to be healthy?

A new weapon is being deployed in the battle to persuade people to change their unhealthy behaviour – by targeting them in the pocket. If people cannot be persuaded to stop smoking/lose weight/get more exercise for their own good – then why not pay them to do so?

Obese patients in Kent have been paid up to £425 to lose weight by the NHS in a trial to test whether financial incentives can be used to change unhealthy behaviour. In Essex, pregnant women who smoke have been offered up to £60 in food vouchers on the NHS if they give up. In west London (Hammersmith) and in Bournemouth the NHS is offering people under 25 a £10 HMV voucher to have a (free) home chlamydia test.

Some claim it is a revolutionary approach. Others dismiss it as simple bribery. The criticism has not deterred other countries from trying the approach. One of the highest rewards was offered to employees of General Electric in the US who were paid up to $750 (£500) if they gave up smoking and remained abstinent for at least 12 months. There was a sliding scale of payments, which rose the longer the individual stayed tobacco-free. …

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