BASILDON residents are set to be paid to lose weight in a “groundbreaking” new scheme.
NHS South West Essex primary care trust and Basildon Council are backing a 100 volunteers in the first scheme of its kind in the UK.
They will be given a £1 ASDA shopping voucher for every pound they shed. The Asda vouchers they earn can only be spent on healthy goods such as fruit and vegetables.
Participants must be significantly overweight, and ‘before and after’ photo sessions will highlight the benefits of their efforts.
If the pilot due to begin in September is successful, the idea could be rolled out across the UK.
Figures show that 25.8 per cent of the adult population in the South West Essex are obese, compared with a national average of 23.6 per cent.
A Basildon Council spokesman said: ‘We have initially set aside £1,000 for the scheme. We don’t want to encourage people to excessive weight loss. It’s a small push in the right direction.’
Thurrock residents shouldn’t be surprised at the scheme. Dozens of Thurrock residents are already able to go to Weightwatchers, funded by the taxpayer.
This has incensed some people.
Jill Aylott, 47 said: “I recently lost two stone. I ate less and exercised more. It was hard work but I did it. I wouldn’t dream of putting my hand out to the taxpayer and expect them to lose weight.
“Schemes such as these are a real slap in the face to those of us who get up off the sofa and sweat to shed.”