Fit for work? NHS chief urges tax breaks for companies tackling obesity

Businesses in the UK could be encouraged to help tackle rising obesity in the UK with tax breaks for firms introducing slimming clubs and health activities for employees.

The plans, which are part of a drive by the NHS to combat obesity, were announced by NHS chief executive Simon Stevens, who said that Britain is “sleepwalking into the worst public health emergency for at least three decades.”

Stevens warned that the NHS would go bankrupt unless serious efforts were made to curb the population’s swelling stomachs.

During a Public Health England conference in Warwick, Stevens said:  “Obesity is the new smoking, and it represents a slow-motion car crash in terms of avoidable illness and rising health care costs.

“If as a nation we keep piling on the pounds around the waistline, we’ll be piling on the pounds in terms of future taxes needed just to keep the NHS afloat.”

According to the Telegraph, Stevens himself lost three stone during a period working in the US where his employer implemented tax-cuts for employees that met health targets including weight-loss.

Under the proposals, employers would get tax breaks only after employees met particular standardised targets.

“It could be about running clubs, diet clubs, group weigh-ins or weight-loss competitions,” Stevens said to the Telegraph.

The NHS is set to deliver a detailed five-year plan for proposals to tackle obesity in Britain in October.

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