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UK Considering Financial Rewards for Healthy Lifestyles

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EDITOR NOTE: Governments often use fear to develop creative ways to keep you under control. To effectively use fear as a manipulation tool, government propagandists have to identify and elevate an amorphous or external enemy. The UK government’s current fear program is zeroing in on a very intimate “enemy”: its citizens’ “fat levels”--instilling a kind of paranoia that the enemy has localized itself within one’s own physical and mental being; that the body either signifies loyalty or disloyalty to one’ own country. In an effort aimed at (supposedly) preventing obesity in the UK, the government created a “social rewards program” which includes financial rewards to help citizens get rid of their extra pounds. But in exchange, citizens must allow the government to monitor their spending. If one complies with its prescribed program, he or she can receive “loyalty points.” Citizens can also earn extra loyalty points for participating in organized exercise events. Points can earn citizens shopping vouchers, discounts, and free tickets to events. In short, compliance with the government’s spending recommendations--allowing them to intrusively collect data on citizens’ finances and  transactions (at the very least)--and modifying physical behaviors to align with the government’s recommended fitness regimes can earn citizens a kind of “loyalty status.”  In the UK, around 28% of their citizens are overweight. Imagine that program being introduced in the US, where overweight Americans constitute more than 42% of the country’s entire population.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s government is reportedly looking to develop a social rewards program that could aid in the health ministry’s ongoing efforts to combat obesity in the country. 

British newspaper The Telegraph on Friday reported that Johnson has brought in Keith Mills, who helped run the London Olympics, to launch the national initiative, which could reportedly include a system through which “loyalty points” can be earned based on citizens’ healthy lifestyle commitments. 

According to The Telegraph, family supermarket spending would be monitored under the program, with those who reduce calorie intake and buy more fruits and vegetables rewarded with points. 

People could also earn points by increasing their exercise in organized events or walking to school, the news outlet reported. 

Potential prizes for accumulated loyalty points include shopping vouchers and discounts, as well as free tickets and other incentives. 

The reported plan, which The Telegraph said is set to launch in January, comes as the outgoing head of the United Kingdom’s (U.K.) National Health Service (NHS), Lord Stevens, said Friday that health officials could struggle to address illnesses in the future if obesity is not immediately addressed. 

Johnson himself has brought attention to the issue of obesity, saying in March that he believed his weight contributed to his stay in intensive care after he was diagnosed with COVID-19.

Johnson said at the time that he was “doing all I can to lose weight,” adding that he had been cutting out carbs and “late night cheese.”

Health experts have said that individuals who are overweight are at risk for greater complications from COVID-19. 

The Hill has reached out to the U.K.'s Department of Health and Social Care for comment on the reported plans. 

The British government previously announced in March that it would be offering financial rewards up to $700,000 for overweight or obese people to go on weight management courses. 

Johnson said at the time that while “losing weight is hard,” making “small changes can make a big difference. Being overweight increases the risk of becoming ill with Covid.” 

“If we all do our bit we can reduce our own health risks but also take pressure off the NHS,” he added, according to The Guardian

Last month, the U.K.'s health department said it would be banning TV and online ads that promote junk food before 9 p.m. and this week announced that it would be restricting unhealthy food promotions in stores starting October 2022.

Original post from The Hill

All articles are provided as a third party analysis and do not necessarily reflect the explicit views of GSI Exchange and should not be construed as financial advice.

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