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Fat men offered up to £400 to lose weight and received daily text messages urging them to ‘avoid the kebab shop’ as part of the NHS’s ‘Game of Stones’ trial.

The NHS pays obese men up to £400 to lose weight while sending SMS reminders to lose weight.

The trial – called Game of Stones – involves men receiving daily advice via text message, including “take a different route home to avoid the kebab shop” and “don’t treat your body like a captain”.

Researchers said the program could now be rolled out across the NHS, adding that the levels of weight loss achieved were much higher than those seen in weight loss courses.

The study was funded by the government and recruited 585 men from Bristol, Glasgow and Belfast through GP practices.

GPs text daily advice to obese men, including

GPs are texting obese men daily with advice including “take a different route home to avoid the kebab shop” and “don’t treat your body like a skipper”.

Men who lost 10% of their weight in a year and kept it off received a £400 cash incentive.

Men who lost 10% of their weight in a year and kept it off received a £400 cash incentive.

They were challenged to lose 10 per cent of their weight in a year and keep it off, while receiving a £400 cash incentive.

Overall, the men lost 4.8 per cent of their body weight and received £128 each, while 27 men were successful and received the full £400.

The messages were written “by men and for men,” which proved more popular than courses in which men said they didn’t like being told what to do.

They received £50 if they lost five per cent of their body weight in three months and a further £150 if they lost ten per cent in six months.

A final amount of £200 is awarded if they maintain this weight for another six months, with men having four weigh-ins per year.

The trial is still ongoing and the approach will now also be tested in women, according to results presented at the European Congress on Obesity in Venice.

Experts said paying people to lose weight would likely be cost-effective for the NHS in the long term, as it would reduce the costs of treating obesity-related illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease.

The program should also be extended to women

The program should also be extended to women

Study author Professor Pat Hoddinott, of the University of Stirling in Scotland, said the program is “ready to scale up now and we are confident it can be done”.

She added: “Weight loss was greater than most behavioral weight management services currently offered in the UK. They tend to be very intensive and we have found that they don’t appeal to men.

“Losing weight can help people feel better, reduce the risk of many health problems such as diabetes and help health services achieve their goal of keeping men healthy. However, we know that men often don’t like participating in traditional weight loss groups.

“Research has shown that offering cash incentives is a popular and effective way to help men lose weight.

“This initiative would be a low-cost solution that health services could offer to men, requiring only four short-weight appointments, and with money only paid at the end to those who lose more than 5 percent of their weight. their starting weight.”

According to the researchers, this program represents an “attractive option for GPs and is better than the current recommendation given to patients to participate in 12 weight loss sessions”.

She said: “Attendance goes down a lot for these (weight loss classes) – it’s good at first but people stop going. As a GP I saw this all the time, which is why I wanted to design something simpler for the NHS. The texts alone were not enough – the financial incentives were that little extra motivator.

Professor Haddinott said she hoped that in the long term the program would “pay for itself” because patients would need fewer treatments.

Research shows that the NHS spends on average between £979 and £1,375 a year caring for an obese patient, compared to £638 for someone at a healthy weight, due to lower rates of chronic conditions such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes and joint pain. .

Jane DeVille-Almond, president of the British Obesity Society, said cash rewards would likely be cheaper for the NHS than the cost of paying staff for more intensive weight loss clinics.

She said: “This is exciting news and we absolutely need a simple, cost-effective way to get society to lose weight.

“Men are a particularly difficult group to integrate into our healthcare system, so texts and financial incentives are a great way to move forward.”

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