Workers to be rewarded for losing weight
New plans to shake up the UK health system could include cash rewards for staff who lose weight. The NHS-backed plan aims to tackle the obesity crisis and ease the strains placed on the system by overweight patients.
Incentives could be greater or smaller depending on the amount of weight a participant loses. It is understood the NHS plans to "challenge" firms to bring in such schemes rather than offer them money.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens says obesity is "getting worse in some respects" and describes the issue among children as "a significant future health threat".
At primary school level, one in 10 children is obese. By the time they reach Year 6, this level has doubled to one in five.
There are also plans to cut access to unhealthy products on NHS premises and measure the health and wellbeing of staff.
Moves to tackle obesity are part of a shake-up of the healthcare system in the next parliament proposed by NHS bosses.
Other measures include tax cuts for volunteers and breaking down the boundaries between GPs and hospitals.
Officials warn of severe consequences for patients unless the overhaul is implemented and appealed for a boost in funding from the next government.
Mr Stevens says there is no choice but to do this - without it the consequences for patients would be severe.
Bruce Keogh, national medical director of NHS England, said that, despite the NHS remaining one of the best healthcare systems in the world, it has been hard squeezed over the last four years. Many people working in the NHS are really beginning to feel the pressure.
Mr Stevens said the taxpayer funded health system has led to a "blind spot" over the healthcare of employees, and workplace schemes to encourage weight loss have been largely ignored despite success abroad.
He said that in many countries, employers have developed voluntary schemes for their employees whereby they get cash back based on participation in Weight Watchers or similar schemes.
An emphasis on addressing the root causes of ill health such as poor diets, alcohol consumption and smoking was set out in Five Year Forward View, published by the NHS.
It states that the future health of millions of children, the sustainability of the NHS, and the economic prosperity of Britain all now depend on a radical upgrade in prevention and public health.
As the nation's waistline expands, the report says, the UK is piling on billions of pounds in future taxes to pay for preventable illnesses.