Paying for Weight in Gold: Worth It?

Destined for the Archives of Bad Ideas comes a childhood obesity program that is almost certainly not worth its weight in gold. Dubai will pay parents of children with obesity two grams of gold for every kilo of weight loss.

This program, called “Your Child in Gold,” expands upon a program from last year that was just for adults and called “Your Weight in Gold.” In expanding the program to include the whole family, they doubled the payout for families with children who participate — from one gram of gold for every kilo lost, to two. It’s a short-term program, lasting just one month.

The prevalence of obesity in the United Arab Emirates, which includes Dubai, is indeed a concern. A recent report in Lancet estimated the rate of obesity at 27% of adult men and 33% of adult women. For youth and children under 20, the estimate was 12% of boys and 13% of girls.

Actually, it’s nice that they’re trying to involve the whole family in healthy changes. But it’s not clear that a one-month-let’s-see-how-much-weight-you-can-lose program will really do much for long-term health. And the thinking behind it — that all you need to do is pay people with obesity and they’ll lose weight — is just a tad offensive. It reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the dynamics of obesity.

Really, you don’t have to bribe people to be happy and healthy. You just have to make it possible.

“Nothing surpasses the beauty and elegance of a bad idea.” — Craig Bruce

Click here to read more about the program and here to read about some of the medical concerns it has raised.

Gold mask from Grave Circle A at Mycenae, Greece; Photograph © Steven Zucker / flickr

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2 Responses to “Paying for Weight in Gold: Worth It?”

  1. August 02, 2014 at 8:39 am, Mary-Jo said:

    Yikes! Yo-yo dieting can make for a lucrative hobby — even profession! The intention of this program, I’m sure, was great, but, on many levels, some of which you point out — it’s not the ‘road’ to take for sustainable, health-driven results.

    • August 02, 2014 at 10:40 am, Ted said:

      Thanks for taking time to comment, Mary-Jo. I agree with you.