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Stoke-On-Trent council targeting obese people with “motivational” texts

Posted on Thursday, 6 February by

Text Messages

Obese people in Stoke-On-Trent will soon be sent daily text messages by the city council encouraging them to lose weight as part of a novel approach to curbing obesity.

The 10-week voluntary scheme covers 500 people at a total cost of £10,000 out of the £50m budget the local NHS spends on weight-related illness. The scheme aims to prevent the expense and upset of invasive surgical procedures or other more drastic weight-loss methods – and at a cost of £20 per person, the scheme is being touted as highly cost-effective, depending on how productive it is.

Cabinet member for health Adrian Knapper said:

On average it costs the same amount [£10,000] to perform just one intervention operation to help people manage their weight.

But the leader of the opposition, Conservative councillor Abi Brown, said although she appreciated the sentiment behind the idea, she thought the money could be better spent elsewhere. “I think we could get more for £10,000,” she said. “If the money went to community groups it could be used to support people losing weight but also for other projects. “The money could just be used more fruitfully.”

Examples text messages include “eat slightly smaller portions” and “maybe walk to the shops or use the stairs more often”. Hardly things that people need to be told about, but it’s thought that the scheme will act as helpful ongoing reminders that will aid their weight-loss efforts, alongside the knowledge they’re part of a broader group initiative to help stimulate willpower.

Well, at least it’s a much smarter way to lose weight than what Ricky Gervais did…

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Lewis Scrafton
22. Co-founder and editor of SQ Magazine. Studying at University of Sussex. Interned at MATTER and published in The Guardian.

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