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Paid weight loss trial criticised

A health trust which is paying volunteers who sign up to a weight loss trial has been criticised by MPs.

NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent is offering between £70 and £425 to 300 men and women who reach their weight loss targets as part of a Pounds for Pounds project.

It is thought to be the first weight-loss incentive scheme to be trialled by the NHS.

Claire Martin, public health specialist for the NHS in east Kent, said: "Achieving a healthier weight and encouraging people to choose a healthier lifestyle are major issues for the health service.

"This scheme will be ideal for people who have tried to lose weight before but have found it difficult to make progress.

"We hope this trial will help establish whether financial incentives can motivate people to shed the pounds - and keep them off."

Ann Widdecombe, Conservative MP for Maidstone and the Weald, has criticised the scheme.

She said: "If the NHS had money to spare it would be OK but, the fact is, the NHS is short of money. There are plenty of people who cannot get funding to pay for treatment for illnesses."

Copyright © Press Association 2009

Eastern and Coastal Kent Primary Care Trust

We asked you to tell us what you think about the scheme. Your comments (terms and conditions apply):

"That sound good to me, so far I have lost 37 lbs and have 27 lbs to go, could do with the help at times." - Sue Fuller, Kent

"It is a very good idea and it is going to help a lot of people get their lives back to normal." - Joyce Adong, Kent

"I think it is wrong. Instead of offering money to people I think the goverment should open new gyms and swimming pools and they sould be FREE for people to use, to encourage them to do some exercise." - Mustafa, Walsall