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Obese residents

UK town to send fitness tips to obese residents

Saturday, February 22, 2014 by: J. D. Heyes
Tags: obese residents, fitness tips, text messaging

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(NaturalNews) In what some claim is a bizarre way to help residents stay fit, officials in one British town have said they will begin texting fitness tips to those who are deemed to be overweight, though some have criticized the program as worthless, expensive and doomed to fail.

The BBC reports that folks rated as obese in the city of Stoke-on-Trent will be sent the "encouraging" text messages, by rule of the city council.

According to the report, the council has classified about 70,000 people in the city as obese; the local element of the National Health Service is spending about 50 million British pounds (GBP) annually on weight-related illnesses.

As reported by the BBC:

"Motivational" texts include: "Use the stairs more", "Eat fruit and veg" and "Keep a check on snacks and drinks."

The 10-week project will cost
10,000 [GBP] and will be available to 500 people who sign up with the council.

"On average it costs the same amount [10,000 GBP] to perform just one intervention operation to help people manage their weight," Adrian Knapper, the Cabinet member for health, said.

"Our programme means people who already want to lose weight and have signed up with us to get support will receive a cheap and effective nudge to help keep them motivated," Knapper added.

Opposition leader Abi Brown, of the Conservative Party, said she appreciated the sentiment behind the plan, but thought the money could be better spent on something else.

"I think we could get more for 10,000 [GBP]," she told the BBC.


"If the money went to community groups it could be used to support people losing weight but also for other projects," she continued. "The money could just be used more fruitfully."

Some residents, however, thought the program would be useful. One resident, 55-year-old Nathan Troni, said he had a body mass index (BMI) of 32 and that he was considering signing up for the texts.

"It would be a reminder, I suppose, just to keep on track," he said. "I don't know whether it would feel like nagging, though. I've already got my wife to do that."

Not everyone was convinced the scheme would work, though.

"To be honest, I can't see it will make a difference," Hope Chang, from Chell Health in the city, said. "You need to have willpower, and if you don't have it, an automated text message won't help.

"If I needed a reminder when I was losing weight," she added, "I would look in the mirror."

Overall, obesity in England, compared to the rest of the world, is high

Some experts, such as Phil O'Connell, a fellow on Staffordshire University's health faculty, believe the scheme to be "pioneering."

"This is a really cost-effective use of funds, helping people before they reach the stage of needing massively expensive treatment for a range of obesity-related problems including diabetes, cancer, heart disease and disability," he said. "This is what public health action should be all about."

The budget of 10,000 GBP includes the setting up of the project as well as the cost of text messaging.

"This is all about getting people on board and taking action before they need medical support, which is so expensive and personally upsetting," one unidentified council spokeswoman told the BBC. "This saves both money and suffering."

Worldwide, the U.S. and Mexico are the nations whose populations are most obese, but England ranks sixth, behind Scotland, according to 2013 figures compiled by Public Health England.






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