(CBS) "You're fat, and you need to lose weight." Doctors who talk to their obese patients about their weight stand to boost their earnings, if England enacts a new plan proposed by its health insurance agency.
Under a plan introduced by the country's National Health Service, general practitioners would receive a bonus for advising obese patients to lose weight or for enrolling them in a weight-loss program, The Daily Telegraph reported. The plan is part of an NHS campaign to stop skyrocketing rate of obesity. The idea is that by by paying doctors now to get encourage their fat patients to lose weight, England can avoid paying later for expensive weight-reduction surgery or to treat health problems arising from obesity.
A recent study estimated that illness caused by obesity and poor diet is costing the NHS more than six billion pounds a year, according to the Telegraph. Experts predict more than half of British adults and a quarter of children will be obese by 2040.
But the proposal has its critics.
"I am in favor of GPs referring more patients to weight management schemes...where there is good evidence they work..." Tam Fry, spokesperson for the National Obesity Forum, told the Telegraph. "But I think it's appalling that GPs need to be paid extra to do this - and even worse that they can get the same reward just from telling a patient to lose some weight."
U.S. government organizations back campaigns like the CDC's "Healthy Weight" campaign, and the White House's "Let's Move" initiative, but what about a plan like this in the U.S.?
Dr. Ken Fujioka, director of the center for weight management at the Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, Calif., thinks a plan like this would be a step in the right direction. "In the U.S. doctors are told by insurance companies that they will not reimburse for 'obesity' thus there is incentive to not put obesity as a code to get paid," he told CBS News in an email. "If there was incentive to identify obesity, it would be the first step toward attacking a very serious problem."
What do you think? Should doctors get paid to tell patients they're fat?
The CDC has more on maintaining healthy weight.