The head of the NHS has announced proposals to halt ‘the slow-motion car crash’ of obesity – including potential tax breaks for those businesses helping employees to lose weight.
At a Public Health conference at Warwick University, NHS boss Simon Stevens said: ‘If as a nation we keep piling on the piles around the waistline, we’ll be piling on the pounds in terms of future taxes needed just to keep the NHS afloat.’
Stevens told The Telegraph that companies should be encouraged to find ways to help their employees lose weight. ‘It could be about running clubs, diet clubs, group weigh-ins or weight loss competitions,’ he explained.
Businesses will only receive the tax breaks if their schemes meet certified standards approved by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence.
The NHS chief executive himself lost three stone while working in the US for UnitedHealth, a company who receive tax breaks for employees who meet healthy living targets.
‘In a number of other countries because employers have to cover healthcare costs they have an incentive but it’s not really something we think about here, it’s been a blind spot,’ he said.
A five-year plan detailing the NHS proposals will be published next month. It will also include measures to help the health service become ‘better role models’ for the public, Stevens said, including staff canteens offering healthier food and gym discounts for staff.