Westminster Council’s plan to improve local health by withholding benefits from residents who fail to lose weight has been rightly ridiculed by Health experts.
- British Medical Association GP committee chairman Dr Buckman, a GP in north London, called the proposals “some of the silliest things I’ve heard in a long time. When I was first told about this I thought it was a joke. The best way [councils] can intervene is to stop restaurants and fast-food chains providing the kind of food that make people put on weight, and interfere with the way foods are sold in shops.”
- Conservative MP Stephen Dorrell, Chairman of the Commons Health committee, “warned that doctors could refuse to take part in the scheme if it was seen as penalising people for being unhealthy or unfit”
- Professor John Wass, of the Royal College of Physicians, said: ‘For people to lose weight, they must want to lose weight, and I have concerns about forcing the public to exercise. If we want to solve a problem this big, we need to look at the bigger picture.’
- Professor Lindsey Davies, president of the Faculty of Public Health, said: “The only way we will ever tackle the problems caused by obesity is by everyone working together. Obesity is not only caused by how much we each eat or drink: if tackling it were as simple as telling people to eat less and move more, we would have solved it by now. Our chances of being obese are also affected by factors like whether we have easy access to affordable fruit, veg and other healthy foods, and if it is safe to let our kids play outside.”
Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group said;
“This is a madcap plan that will penalise those people who already have difficult problems to deal with by taxing them because they are fat. It is also completely impractical. For the ‘fat tax’ plan to work it would need the full cooperation of local doctors and I would be very surprised if any Westminster doctors would want to be involved with a Council scheme that took money away from their patients because they failed to lose enough weight”
“This is another stunt by Westminster Conservatives to grab the headlines by attacking the most vulnerable in society and those with multiple problems. This is all part of a pattern of Conservative attacks on the poor in an attempt to divert attention from the dire state of the economy and the Government’s failed economic policies”