Cash For Chunkers?

Call it "Cash for Chunkers," but a new British program is paying people to lose weight and it seems to be working.

They call it "Pounds for Pounds" in the U.K., and their National Health Service says it looks promising, according to the UK's Daily Mail.

The plan, funded partly by the local health authority in Kent, works by giving participants about $60 for every pound dropped. The biggest losers get big bonuses if they reach their target weight and stay there.

In the trial, 45 percent of the dieters lost 5 per cent or more of their body weight. Overall, the average weight loss was about 14 pounds, and the most successful banked checks ranging from $30 to $500.

Could this plan work in the United States? Is it worth a try? After all, obesity is no longer just a personal problem; it's a public health crisis. At a conference on obesity last year, Center for Disease Control director Dr. Thomas Frieden said it's critical that we "take effective steps to contain and reduce the enormous burden of obesity on our nation."

One could make a case for giving it a try. Few things motivate Americans like greenbacks, right? And it's not like we're not already spending.

According to the CDC, obesity-related diseases like diabetes, heart disease and arthritis account for nearly 10 percent of all medical spending in the United States. That's about $147 billion a year.

And at that price, the medical budget would do well to go on a diet.