This is a bit of a rant rather than a helpful post, but then sometimes I find it’s helpful to get things off my chest.
A new report has been published by Westminster City council and written in conjunction with think-tank Local Government Information Unit (LGiU), which states that:
“Linking welfare measures to behaviours that promote public health. Relocalisation of council tax
benefit and housing benefit combined with new technologies provide an opportunity for councils to
embed financial incentives for behaviours that promote public health. The increasing use of smart
cards for access to leisure facilities, for instance, provides councils with a significant amount of data
on usage patterns. Where an exercise package is prescribed to a resident, housing and council tax
benefit payments could be varied to reward or incentivise residents.”
According to one of Westminsters councillors this report is forward and radical thinking. Some of the ideas in this report make sense, but they are overshadowed by the utter stupidity of this one paragraph which shows very little grasp of the complexities that can lead to being obese.
So my thoughts.
- Would someone show me ONE former obese person who is now slim that can attribute all their weight loss to exercise.
- They are going to monitor use of the leisure centre using smart cards. The same leisure centres that are packed with machines dispensing chocolate, crisps, soda pop and sports drinks (sports drinks ARE NOT HEALTHY). This smacks of Big Brother. Also apparently it’s ok to be rich and fat, just not poor. (I’m looking at you Eric Pickles).
- What about obese people who might also be parents or carers? The government want to penalise children for their parents weight? !?!
- If the obese person does happen to be a carer what are they suppose to do with the children or person they care for whilst they are at the gym? Many might have creches – but these cost money.
- Where is the money for the gym membership going to come from? My local leisure centre costs £37 a month for off-peak membership.
Currently if you are obese you can ask your GP to put you on a GP referral scheme however it is limited to a 10-12 week course of gym membership (and support) after which membership MAY be subsidised but will not be free. Many of those on benefits can’t afford the luxury, and gym membership is a luxury even if our health is not.
Education is what is needed in how to cook healthy food cheaply, these courses should be available to everyone no matter what their BMI (every heard of skinny fat?) or bank account. How to exercise by using the local park and cheap equipment. The government could look into ways that fruit and vegetables can be subsidised so even those who do not have easy access to a huge supermarket can afford them. In Scotland the Scottish Food and Drink Federation (SFDF) and the Scottish Government are working with local food businesses to reduce levels of sugar, fat and salt in their everyday products.
What is not needed is the humilation and pushing into further poverty of people whose crime isn’t really to be fat but to be unemployed and poor.