This thinking is worthy of the Daily Mail, not a think tank.

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.

About Whole Life Fitness
Whole Life Fitness is a Personal Training business which caters exclusively to the over 50s. It is run by Helen Witcomb in Farnham, Surrey and the surrounding areas. Personal training is not just for the fit and healthy. Leading a more physically active lifestyle will help to maintain an ability to perform everyday tasks as well as helping to prevent immobility and isolation. For more information please call 07785747669, email or go to our website at

3 Responses to This thinking is worthy of the Daily Mail, not a think tank.

  1. I so agree with you – food affordability, cooking skills and encouragement to just freaking walk every day is what’s needed. No obese person is going to love the gym, especially if it costs money. AND – sports drinks should be banned! Along with FruitShoots and Ribena! 🙂

  2. I was really angry hearing about this.

    I recently had to see the GP about a small matter and he was fixated with my weight. I’m not obese but I am very active, walk and swim and do yoga, so I feel very healthy and comfortable having swimmer’s shoulders and walker’s calf muscles. He did not differentiate between fat weight and muscle weight and it was very embarrassing for me. For the first time, I started weighing myself and measured waist and hip. As it turned out, my back injury had slowed down my activity and I probably had put on a bit, which quickly dropped off once I was exercising fully again (thanks to a wonderful physio).

    My point is, putting pressure (incentive) on GPs for weight loss is not going to motivate people to lose weight.

    I completely agree with you.

  3. Helen Netherton says:

    Well said Helen!! they just never think the whole plan through its all knee jerks!

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