Seriously, who comes up with this stuff? Who stands up in a meeting and says “I’ve got it, you guys! I can solve our fat people problem! You see, what we’re gonna do is wait until they’re 18, set a minimum butterball threshold and then text them every day to remind them that getting off the couch is something they really ought to consider.”
“But we can’t just go around texting people we think are fat…can we?”
“No, that’s the best part! They’re going to sign up for their daily scoldings voluntarily!”
“Hmmm. Interesting. How much is this going to cost?”
“Around 10 grand, give or take.”
“But isn’t this kind of silly? How do we expect people to sign up to be told that they’re too fat…”
“Shut up, Wilson! Nobody wants to hear your doom and gloom. We’re going ahead with it! Somebody fetch me the public’s checquebook!”
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is sending texts to obese people in the area to help motivate them to lose weight.
Over 100,000 people in the region are overweight or obese, the council said, and the texts are for those who are aged at least 18, have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or over and who have proactively signed up to receive the motivational messages.
They will be sent daily texts, a weekly questionnaire and a follow-up questionnaire. A sample of 500 recipients will also have a telephone interview. All this, plus the licence for the NHS-owned Simple Telehealth text service is equal to £10,000.
Examples of the texts sent include ‘aim to eat a variety of fruit and vegetables each day’, ‘aim to eat regular meals and keep a check on snacks and drinks’ and ‘maybe walk to the shops or use the stairs more often’.
The texts may also ask questions, such as ‘are you pleased with the amount of exercise you’ve done in the last seven days, text yes or no’. If the respondents text yes, they get a reply like ‘that’s great, keep going’, or if the answer is negative, they get a text encouraging them to do more exercise.