Why we should never pay for people to be healthy!

The Mirror
11 October 2010

To encourage people to ditch bad habits, Government health advisory body NICE is considering providing financial incentives (or bribes!).

The idea is to reduce lifestyle-related diseases and save the NHS billions in the long term. Suggestions include supermarket points for unfit people who make it to an exercise class, grocery vouchers for smokers who quit and cash for obese people who shed weight.

At best I'd call this optimistic, at worst, ridiculously na´ve, deeply unfair and a shocking waste of money at a time when cancer patients are denied drugs on the basis of cost. Think of the message it would send: 'Sorry, you have cancer and a drug exists that could prolong your life but you can't have it because there's no money. But there is money for people who've smoked all their lives but have decided it's worth stopping for shopping vouchers.'

Paying someone to ditch bad habits is the ultimate in nanny state mentality - absolving them of any responsibility for their health. The idea is also fraught with practical problems.

Last year an estimated 337,000 stopped smoking in the UK. Would the NHS reward all of them for doing this? What's to stop people taking the rewards and then reverting to their old behaviour? Will people start smoking to cash in on the incentives for giving up? And how practical is it to monitor progress accurately? Plus there's no convincing evidence it would work.

When the Cochrane Collaboration, which reviews health research, looked into incentives to stop smoking, it found early success waned after rewards were no longer available. Meanwhile, a weight-loss scheme in England offering cash incentives saw three-quarters of participants drop out within a year.

The incentive to be healthier already exists in the form of a longer life and massively reduced risk of serious illness. What people need is encouragement and moral support. I'd like to see more money put into methods we know work - prescriptions for WeightWatchers and Slimming World sessions, for instance - and more clinics run at GP surgeries. Nice is now interested in hearing the public's views before issuing guidance.

Preventing children from smoking should be a high priority for the government and it looks as though Bristol University is achieving great progress.  The teenage years are when most children start experimenting with smoking and unfortunately this habit can last a lifetime.  The Harley Street Stop Smoking Clinic encourages teenagers to stand up for their health and not become a smoker.  Not only is it an expensive habit but smoking is so detrimental to their health.  Giving up smoking is the best thing you can do to promote your health.  At our London stop smoking clinic we use hypnosis to stop smoking.  We have treated thousands of clients to stop smoking with hypnotherapy which has been proven to be the most successful treatment to stop smoking.  Stop smoking with hypnosis at the Harley Street Stop Smoking Clinic in London. One of the leading stop smoking clinics in London using hypnotherapy to quit smoking.

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Reference link: http://www.mirror.co.uk/lifestyle/sex-relationships/why-we-should-never-pay-for-people-to-be-healthy-253309