A city in England will begin sending "motivational" text messages to people who are obese as encouragement to lose weight, the city council said this week.
The text alerts sent out by the city council of Stoke-on-Trent, which lies about halfway between Birmingham and Manchester, range from "Use the stairs more" to "Eat fruit and veg" and "Keep a check on snacks and drinks." The messages will be part of a roughly $16,000, 10-week program for 500 people who sign up. The council says that the weight loss scheme is a money-saving endeavor — health care costs for about 70,000 obese adults in the city come to more than $80 million a year.
"On average it costs the same amount to perform just one intervention operation to help people manage their weight," Adrian Knapper, the Cabinet member for health, told the BBC. "Our programme 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."
But support for the new program wasn't unanimous.
"If the money went to community groups it could be used to support people losing weight but also for other projects," said Abi Brown, a conservative councillor, who appreciated the thought behind the program. " The money could just be used more fruitfully."