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A UK Town Is Texting Motivational Weight Loss Messages To Obese Residents
February 4, 2014
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(Photo: PAUL ELLIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Need some help getting in shape? The UK town of Stoke-on-Trent has a novel idea: text messages.

The town has started sending obese residents motivational text messages to help them lose weight. More than 70,000 people in the town of about 250,000 are classified as obese, which the city council says costs the local National Health Service chapter £50-million (about $90-million) a year in weight-related medical expenses.

The text program is entirely voluntary, and will cost the town £10,000 (about $18,000) for 10 weeks. 

"On average it costs the same amount to perform just one intervention operation to help people manage their weight," Cabinet member for health Adrian Knapper told the BBC. "Our program means people who already want to lose weight and have signed up with us to get support will receive a cheap and effective nudge to help keep them motivated."

Messages include things like "eat slightly smaller portions," "Use the stairs more" or "Eat fruit and veg." 

But not everyone is convinced that the government-sponsored text messages will be effective. "You need to have willpower, and if you don't have it, an automated text message won't help," resident Hope Chang told BBC. "If I needed a reminder when I was losing weight, I would look in the mirror."

The TaxPayers’ Alliance, an independent group lobby group in Britain, objected to the program on grounds of intrusiveness, saying: “council chiefs shouldn’t play nanny with taxpayers’ money.”

Still, it's an interesting tactic — especially in the wake of a report released this week by Public Health England that 64 per cent of all adults in England are classified as overweight or obese. The 10-week program will serve as a feasability study for similar projects elsewhere. 

Via The Verge

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