August 14th, 2009
06:00 PM ET

Offering $ to help fat people lose weight not working

Some say fast food chains are partly to blame for the nation's obesity epidemic.

Some say fast food chains are partly to blame for the nation's obesity epidemic.

FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:

The town of Elgin, Illinois is offering its citizens money to lose weight, but they can't find any takers

After a statewide survey named Elgin the "fattest" city in Illinois, city officials decided to try to do something about it.

The local YMCA is offering $48,000 in grants to promote healthy living. They asked schools, business, churches and community groups to submit their plans – and the winning groups would get $1,000 each.

The hope was that residents would come up with solutions like buying gym equipment, starting healthy cooking classes, creating a walking club, etc. But no one has signed up for the money yet.

Elgin's mayor says the lack of interest in this program shows the city has a long way to go, he suggests people come up with "non-traditional exercise programs" – an alternative to team sports, like a program to get kids to ride bikes and skateboards.

Officials hope some of this grant money can also help pay to teach parents about healthy eating for themselves and their children. Almost half of the kids in Elgin's school district are obese or at risk for being obese.

The deadline for this program is September 1st, so if you're listening in Elgin, Illinois, you have a couple weeks to get off the couch and sign up.

SO HERE'S THE QUESTION: If offering money to help fat people lose weight doesn't work, what will?

Interested to know which ones made it on air?

Angel says:
Have you ever tried to get a heroine addict to stop by giving him money? Food is an addiction to the overweight, and it's a terribly insidious one because you must be exposed to your addiction daily in order to live… I have been through every weight loss system imaginable, overseen by doctors and therapists. Sometimes, I've lost a little, but the weight comes back, and it brings friends. It is a kind of hell you can't understand unless you live there.

Jim from Hot Springs Village, Arkansas says:
Jack, As a 65-year old marathoner with a spinal injury, I can tell you it is difficult not to sit down and pick up a fork. Tell these people in Elgin it is possible to keep a 34 inch waist by putting said fork down and getting off one’s buttocks. Running mountains is difficult, but it works. We don't expect everyone to do what we do, but walking is pretty easy – especially AWAY from the refrigerator.

Dereck says:
And we wonder why health care is so expensive.

JD from Greenville, North Carolina says:
Instead of "Cash for Clunkers" we're offering "Checks for the Chubby"? In eastern North Carolina, a lot of people don't have access to a lot of fresh food unless they grow it themselves. If you want to make people skinny and fit, bring back decent jobs to rural areas so folks can afford to buy fruits and veggies.

Arlene from Illinois says:
Jack, I live right down the road from Elgin, Illinois and can't for the life of me figure this thing out, but I'm willing to talk it over with you over a burger, fries, and a big drink next time you’re in town.

A. says:
Three words: Bacon flavored vegetables.

Filed under: Health care
soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. Jack Kramer in California

    I do not know what the government can do. It takes each individual person to change their life habits to lose weight. Each person needs to watch less TV and eat less, but that is an obvious thing to say.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:04 pm |
  2. Roy

    National health care with gastric-bypass panels.


    August 14, 2009 at 1:06 pm |
  3. Sandy C.

    You have to inform the kids.. health class in school should discuss proper eating habits..proper food servings in school.. recess and sports for the kids to help them get away from the tv,video and computer..parents to be active WITH THEIR CHILDREN.. – fast food chains must change their fats and carbs-use whole wheat buns and non hydrogenated fats – we are dying earlier, heart, cancer and diabetes.. also ban GMO foods -the govt has to get their act together too...

    August 14, 2009 at 1:07 pm |
  4. James Lenon - Chuckey TN

    Famine, in concert with wide-spread unemployment, severe drought, and $5.00/gal gasoline will make a good starting point.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:21 pm |
  5. Rodney from Little Rock, Arkansas

    We, the consumers, have the power to change what the grocery store sells, what the restaurant serves and ultimately, how and what we eat, but not if we let the almighty Commercial convince us that we don't. At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy, turn off the tv, because with it go the commercials. We are too connected to and too controlled by our commercials, thus rendering ourselves mindless, lazy, pacified slaves.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:25 pm |
  6. John from Alabama

    Jack: Better food, and more exercise. It has to become a way of life, and everyone should promote a healthy life style from government, employers, civic groups, and time should be allowed for a more active life. Americans work more than Europeans, and Americans do not live as long as Europeans. We need to slow down the work ethic and allow more time for self care. Morale is very important for a better life.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:26 pm |
  7. David Alexandria, VA

    Since the threat of death from a variety of diseases doesn't work, I suggest we hit'em where it hurts - the pocketbook. In the national interest, I recommend we charge seat-overflow premiums for air fare, Body Mass Index-based surcharges for medical insurance, and a Transfat Tax on anything sold by a clown, a King, a cute girl in pigtails and the like.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  8. Tom from Philly

    well since its mostly rich fat people and poor fat people we must find a way to target both... YES taxes the rich hate to pay and the poor cant afford. so lets tax fat HEAVILY solve the deficit healthcare, and make people thinner!

    August 14, 2009 at 1:35 pm |
  9. Cameron in SF, CA

    It could be as simple as Calories in < Calories out. For others, it is a disease that will require more than just a diet. It's a change in the mind on how to deal with stress. For many food is a cheap and legal drug and many "medicate" themselves with food to avoid stress and having to "feel" true emotions. As with any problem, there is no easy solution so everyone needs to figure out what works for them. I have been on this "jouney" as many call it for 4 years now and I've lost over 80 pounds with 40 more to go. Take it day by day, bite by bite.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:37 pm |
  10. Donna Colorado Springs,Co

    Short of closing every fast food joint, donut shop, pizza place, and every unhealthy restaurant, I don't know what will get people to lose weight. It's one of the hardest things in the world to do. I know, because I've been dieting my whole life it seems.Even with all the info out there on obesity, I think it's harder to lose weight than to stop smoking!

    August 14, 2009 at 1:43 pm |
  11. JD in NH

    Obesity is an incredibly complex issue because food can be as addictive as booze, cigarettes and drugs. Unlike the other vices, though, a person cannot exist if they give up food completely. It's very difficult to learn how to live with your demon on a daily basis. That said, it wouldn't be a bad thing if fast food restaurants reduced their portion sizes significantly. It would also be nice if canned vegetables didn't contain corn syrup and a fresh orange didn't cost a dollar.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:45 pm |
  12. Lucy

    A more fundamental change has to take place for people to lose weight. If someone has been overweight their entire lives, losing weight will change every aspect of their life, they will engage in an entirely new perception of what life is and what they can do. Something as superficial as money isn't gonna work, a more profound change needs to happen.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  13. Dan, Chantilly VA

    Nothing short of an act of God will cause most Americans to lose weight. Throwing money at people who make bad decisions under the pretense that they'll start making good decisions has never, and will never work. I'm not sure if throwing money at people who make consistently good decisions has any effect because I've never seen anyone try it.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:52 pm |
  14. Will South Carolina

    Our kids are raised watching TV, playing video games and having their phyiscal education canceled at their schools. Remember the President Kennedy years when you attended P.E you had to pass a phys-ed test??? Peoples eating habits start in the early years. It is easier to train children about good health when they are young as it is to retrain adults when they have bad eating habits for many years. There is not quick fix.....but starting with the youth would yeild better results.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  15. Paul Martin

    Hurst, Texas
    Force them to only eat my ex-wife's cooking !
    Just kidding.

    Excessive weight can be used as a
    "Health Insurance Premium" adjustment.
    Just like the # of accidents you have affects the
    $$ you pay for auto insurance.

    August 14, 2009 at 1:59 pm |
  16. Jeremy, California

    Nothing. You can't force people to change their behavior, regardless of whether or not you offer money to change their laziness, ignorance, and sloth. You just have to look at the amount of recidivism in shows such as 'The Biggest Loser' to witness this first hand.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:02 pm |
  17. Dego/ Ark City,KS

    Who knows what it will take. At best, right now, obese poeple aren't motivated for realistic weight loss or health consciousness until after their first heart attack or until diabetes has set in. I also believe that our incessant PC (politically correct) society doesn't help when confronting this issue. Americans tip toe around the subject like children as not to hurt anyones feelings. Likewise, if you call somebody fat ; your one emotional breakdown away from a lawsuit asking for thousands of dollars in psyhcotherapy damages. There needs to be a full on campaign against obesity like there is against smokers. Make them pay a fat peoples tax/ (sin tax) just like smokers, drinkers and gamblers in lieu of extra health care costs.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:04 pm |
  18. Ray Lawson from Danville, VA

    You could tell them to take responsibility for their own health. No one can make people lose weight, quit smoking, exercise, etc.
    They can't expect someone to make them healthy if they are self destructing.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:06 pm |
  19. john ........ marlton, nj

    He comes Robin Hood again, maybe we can call this program, "Get some looty to loose your booty", ...

    Here is a better idea... don't allow the purchase of "fatty" or "fat causing" type foods to be purchased with food stamps.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:07 pm |
  20. Matt


    Heres an idea. Instead of giving them money maybe we should have a "Fat Tax" instead. If recieving money to stay healthy can't motivate people enough, maybe the fact that they will have to pay for living an unhealthy lifestyle will motivate them to eat healthier and get more exercise. We can take all that extra revenue and pay the people that already live healthy lifestyles.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:09 pm |
  21. Bill from South Jersey

    When the Chinese government wanted to limit families to one child, I believe they told parents that their first child was covered in the national healthcare system, but subsequent children would not be.

    If we are to have a successful healthcare system here, it doesn't seem unreasonable to exclude medical problems that are self-created like alcoholism, smoking-induced cancers, and obesity that is caused by simply eating too much of the wrong kind of food and getting no exercise to burn off the calories.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:10 pm |
  22. Bob - Rawson Argentina

    Nothing but their own will power and personal resonsibility and respect for themselves. Those last two items are in extremely short supply these days, in all areas of our life's!

    August 14, 2009 at 2:15 pm |
  23. Jill

    Building mass transit system in more cities across the US. It's good for the environment and it integrates walking into people's routine which will help reduce waist lines.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:18 pm |
  24. Kim, St. Thomas ON

    Offering money is not going to work; look at all the stars that have taken lots of money from weight loss companies, lost the weight they were contracted to lose, and then gained all or more of it, back. Issues with obesity stem from ignorance of or lack of access to good nutrition and exercise, as well as a host of emotional issues such as depression, stress, etc. Just ask Dr. Gupta what he thinks....until such time as the root causes of obesity are addressed and treated as a form of prevention, there will be no major trend toward the western population at large, slimming down.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:26 pm |
  25. T Monks

    A major factor is that foods that make you fat are cheaper and require little to no prep time, all of which makes us lazier. Short of regulation and subsidies to increase the supply of healthier foods and penalties (tax increase) on the production of unhealthy foods, is the only possibilities I can think of. For many it is a will power issue. But if you can purchase the unhealthy items you crave and you eat healthier, your body will begin craving the healthier foods. (With the exception of those who will allow their addiction to poor diets to take importance of quality of life, similar to those with drug addictions and smoking addictions)

    August 14, 2009 at 2:34 pm |
  26. Doug - Dallas, TX

    The only way you can help obese or overweight people to change is to take away all of the fattening food choices. That means completely changing fast food menus and eliminating most of the packaged, processed foods for sale in the grocery stores. It literally would put some companies out of business. Until you do that, people will remain fat. The choices are too tempting and the prices on most fast foods make it easier to eat them than plan and cook a meal at home. We are our own worst enemy on this one.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:37 pm |
  27. David in Natchez

    Offer money to people not to feed them. When they come into a restaurant and order too much or fatty food we give them a carrot stick and the government gives me a check. The supermarket checkers could toss their purchases aside and fill the grocery bags with spinach and the government sends me a check. Bottom line, just send me a check.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  28. Larry from Georgetown, Texas

    What's that old saying, "You Can Lead a Horse to Water but you can't make them drink". Well that applies to most anything in life and even if it did work for a while the long term has to be an obsession and new way of life on a daily basis.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:45 pm |
  29. Cameron in SF, CA

    You could give someone $10 Million to lose weight and some would not be able to do it. It takes someone who wants to lose weight, then they have to re-train their brain and taste buds and then they have to maintain that discipline to keep it off. It's a commitment to get healthy and stay healthy and very few will succeed. It is very much like a drug addict or alcoholic trying to stay clean & sober. "Food" is the drug of choice for so many and unfortunately it's legal, cheap and tasty! Fast Food/Junk Food is as addictive as crack cocaine. It's important that we raise our young children to eat food that is as close to it's natural state as possible: If it doesn't have a mother or come from the ground, best not to eat it.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:48 pm |
  30. Janne from NC

    Paying people to lose weight makes as much sense as paying teenage girls not to get pregnant. Whatever happened to personal responsibility?! Are we going to pay people not to smoke, not to drink ? How about paying me to find a less stressful job, mine is killing me.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:52 pm |
  31. Eleanora Feucht, Mt. Laurel, N.J.

    Maybe instead of offering them money to lose weight, we should charge them for every pound they gain.

    August 14, 2009 at 2:54 pm |
  32. Becky In Chicago

    Not Surprised, I work in a Retail Drugstore Chain. Most people have no idea of what is truly healthy food. A lot are to tired or to broke to afford the healthy food which isn't even offered at my store, and cost quite a bit at the local grocery store across the street.

    We need to change how the country things about the food we eat and actually teach about healthy food. Perhaps it's time to make a nutritionist as important as a general doctor. Kids learn from a young age that pizza is far more convent then healthy meal with proper size proportions. We need to end the super sizing of america. I had the chance to visit Japan for 3 weeks, they have proper portion sizes. It was the one place I could finish all the food on my plate with out being over stuffed and ending up with a stomach ache.

    August 14, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  33. bobwhite in Kansas

    Are there high incidents of obesity in the prison populations in the US? Can it be demonstrated that structured confinement can remedy obesity? I say, start with medical treatment and counseling to include food preparation and food qualities. Go from there!

    August 14, 2009 at 3:02 pm |
  34. Albert K.. L.A, CA

    A “Junk Tax” will work. When the ingredients and Nutrition Facts on a food label amount to its contents being Junk food, then the package should be required to have a large warning label issued by the future Department of National Healthcare, “YOU EAT THIS JUNK – YOU DIE.” The makers of the junk should have to pay a high National Healthcare Tax for each label issued.

    August 14, 2009 at 3:03 pm |
  35. Rich McKinney, Texas

    Unfortunately Jack being fat is a personal choice and there is little others can do to modify another persons behavior nor should they. It has been my experience that over weight people that decide to lose weight and are determined to do it will succeed. There is no amount of bribe or pride that will change that. When a person looks in the mirror they see what they look like there is no mystery to it. If they are content to be that which they are then who are we to argue with them?

    August 14, 2009 at 3:07 pm |
  36. Larry, Ohio

    Jack,offering fat people money to lose weight is about the dumbest idea I have ever heard of,it's like paying people to show up on time to work,or paying kids not skip school.There are such things as good results and bad results, these happen naturally.No one should ever be rewarded in any way for questionable behavior.People who lose weight will enjoy a healthier life,those dont will be sick and die.Those get a good education will blossom,those that don't with wither.Natural results is the only true answer!!!

    August 14, 2009 at 3:08 pm |
  37. David in Texas

    But money does work Jack...Charging higher health insurance premiums probably won't work. but a "fat" tax just might work on snack foods, sugar-infested soft drinks, greasy fast food. If given a choice for lunch either a chicken breast and salad for $9 or a cheeseburger and fries for $17, what would you buy? What would you buy tomorrow? the next day?

    August 14, 2009 at 3:15 pm |
  38. John Tubiolo

    People lives are based on the decisions that they make, paying them will not change how they make decisions. Only education will empower people to change their lives. It certainly is taking a long time to get junk food out of the schools, where is the example being set for our children?

    August 14, 2009 at 3:16 pm |
  39. marlene

    This is a tough problem to solve. Better minds than mine have tried. Just look at your fellow citizens, when walking anywhere? Over weight people? You bet! I guess, pay as you go – more for air flight tickets, as an example. True that many don't fly at all, but we have to start somewhere. I'll look forward to your readers answers.

    August 14, 2009 at 3:36 pm |
  40. Gregory Miami Beach, FL.

    Make nutrition and exercise classes free for all overweight/underweight people until they reach a healthy body mass index! It's a win win proposition for all of us! Call them national health centers which are supervised by physicians, dieticians, and phys. trainers and a person gets fitter they progress to higher levels until they're fit and on thier own!

    August 14, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  41. JD, Greenville NC

    Instead of "Cash for Clunkers" we're offering "Checks for the Chubby"? In eastern North Carolina a lot of people don't have access to a lot of fresh food unless they grow it themselves. If you want to make people skinny and fit, bring back decent jobs to rural areas so folks can afford to buy fruits and veggies, then give them some nutrition counseling so they know why it is important..

    August 14, 2009 at 3:40 pm |
  42. Fernando McGregor, CA

    How can you make food corporations to stop using high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, and growth hormones to fabricate their products?
    How can we make private insurance companies to cover 100% access to dietitians and fitness treatments?
    They will not do this because greed and their worship of money; for those companies we are just sources of income, and nothing else.
    unless we change the way those corporations do business, there will be no progress.

    August 14, 2009 at 3:41 pm |
  43. Brittnay Palm Beach, Florida

    Nothing. There are few things more intense than a fat person and their drive to eat. What might come close is greed but if money can not out WEIGH the persons reasoning for grabbing some Taco Bell on the way home, nothing but a personal epiphany will turn that person around. If this thing becomes a reality I just might have to put some on to take some off.

    August 14, 2009 at 3:47 pm |
  44. LouG



    I switched jobs recently and my health insurance is "adequate". I've been carrying about 15-20 extra pounds and it has resulted in high blood pressure. With my new insurance my co-pay is now $80 a month! I don't want the government's help, so I am walking daily with my dog for 40 minutes and am cutting out the soda and junk food. I'll soon be fit, save $80 a month and the extra money from not wasting it on a bad diet.

    August 14, 2009 at 3:48 pm |
  45. Kelly, PA

    In this economy! Of course it would work since there's no better motivator than someone paying you money to do something that's good for you. And if you're fat and broke right about now, it's a no brainer!

    August 14, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  46. Joy in Texas

    Money for fat people? Where do I sign up..Maybe I could join Jenny Craig or buy some Nutra-system meals like all the chunky clelebs are doing. Listen, being overweight is not a matter of choice as many thin people would have you belive. I know this because, I'm one of the "fat" people who are, breathing too much air, taking up too much space and costing the public too much money for my health problems. Let me tell you, I wish it were not so, I've tried everything from gastric bypass to liquid diets that starve you. I lost weight at first but in the end, it all came back, plus some. I'm at a loss as to what to do.. I am at a point to where I can hardly walk anymore, my knees are shot, so I can't exercise and I can't afford to buy the kinds of food that some of the diets like Weight Watchers and some other diet plans recommend...So I hope your contributors have some good ideas for me to try....

    August 14, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  47. Dave, Brooklyn, NY

    Most of the fat people are that way by choice and poor eating habits. When we have obese people among the poor, it is not a matter of money but willpower. Unless a person’s weight problem is the result of a medical condition, they should be cut off from medical plans where other people have to pay the freight for their lack of discipline. I say that as someone who is overweight myself. Once you get past middle age it is not easy to loose by any means. But I am trying very hard and it is working, very slowly, but it is working. It just takes the will to do it. So I have no sympathy for overweight people who don’t try. I’ve been at it for about a year and my progress is discouraging but I won’t stop until I reach my goal.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  48. C.K. of Colorado

    Jack, change is driven by free-will. If they want to be fat, it's their choice, not even bribery will work. Unfortunately for us, these poor decisions affect things like the rising costs of healthcare. These better not be the same people protesting Obama's healthcare plan either.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:19 pm |
  49. Mike of Hot Springs.

    Nothing will make fat people lose weight. I am borderline and one of the hardest things in my life is to keep my weight under some control – never mind losing any. I have decided that if a little extra weight brings on the end of life faster – let it come. It has been a good ride and I have loved almost every minute of it. Since I am now over 70 a good meal and a good drink every now and then are some of the few pleasures I have left.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:21 pm |
  50. AndyZ Lynn, MA

    The solution is very simple; tax MacDonalds, Burger King, and all other fast food at 300% of their current price. Then if you can still afford fast food, go for it.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:33 pm |
  51. Michael Sullivan from Lafayette, California

    Jack - I hate to say it, but I think the only thing that will motivate fat people to lose weight is their personal physicians telling them that if they
    continue their fat-style, they'll die in less than a year.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:38 pm |
  52. mick, florida

    Well Jack, it's going to be very difficult to help people lose weight as long as we allow high fructose corn syrup to be used in the sweetening of products in this country. Did you know that high fructose corn syrup blocks the enzyme that makes you feel full? So, you just keep shoveling the food in! It's banned in many countries. Banning it here would, at least, be a good start!

    August 14, 2009 at 4:43 pm |
  53. Annie Naples FL

    You have to tax all these ridiculous sodas, candies, french fries, and all these unhealthy foods. Maybe a hit in the pocketbook will work . If you want to pay for them and stay obese you will be plain stupid.

    Education on nutrition should be paramount in the food industry both for children and adults Not profits from junk food.

    August 14, 2009 at 4:45 pm |
  54. Jack - Lancaster, OH


    My wife says I am underweight and skinny, can I get money for some fattening up? What is a wopper and how is that related to Washington D.C.?

    August 14, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  55. Tino

    And they will take the money and buy MacDonald's burgers and fries. That stinks, plain and simple. Educate them and let them learn why they should lose weight and stay without regaining it and why it is healthier to be thinner any WHY. EDUCATE. DEMONSTRATE.
    Tino, NYC

    August 14, 2009 at 4:51 pm |
  56. John - Carlsbad, CA


    Nothing! They want to have to lose weight. Aside from the few true medical reasons, it is a behavioral change people need to do day in and day out. That is why diets don't work, they are designed for short term changes. This requires lifestyle changes and these people are either unwilling or unable to change their lifestyle.

    How do you change people's lifestyle? Your guess is about as good as mine. You have to want to change and have the mental and emotional toughness to punch through when things get tough in the process of change. It isn't easy and people today just want an easy out, a pill or some "magic" solution.

    Carlsbad, CA

    August 14, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  57. Greg, Ontario

    Nothing will work Jack. It's like when I was trying to quit smoking. I tried to quit for money, to keep my kids away from it and second hand smoke. I even tried telling myself it would help my golf playing. I tried the patch and learned transcendental meditation and yes I even tried acupuncture. Needless to say they all failed. It wasn't until I said I was quitting for me that I was able to give them up. Put the fork down for yourself and you will see the pounds fall off not before.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:01 pm |
  58. roger

    Stop funding programs for weight related medical problems for those who refuse to lose weight. This would include a lot of dibetics, heart problems, back injuries, breating problems, etc. Start requiring ALL public and private school srudents to take part in organized calesthenics, running, etc every school day. Don't worry about sports where the poor performers quit participating (they aren't doing those anyway). If you develop an appreciation for physical activity in the youth, it may carry over into adulthood. It will also introduce them to a healthier lifestyle. School cafeteria offerings would have to be modified.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:01 pm |

    You see Jack, that is the problem we always have to compete to win something. You have to be soooooo fat to even apply to be on the biggest loser. Give the free membership to any fat person who wants it with a trainer and they will probably take it, I will. Stop having us compete to lose weight because if we do not win, we get depressed and eat more.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:13 pm |
  60. Diane Dagenais Turbide


    actually a thousand dollars could be spend to give to poor family for them to go with a nutritionist and redo their food cupboard and freezer with healthier foods! Other options are we need to create communities that shows healthy lifestyles by having more exercice and meditation parks, more bike and rollerskates paths as well as more community gardening, community coop where cooking classes, stress reduction and conflict resolutions. In other words, it always goes about why do we always focus on feeding the individual with the knowledge that they can fix on their own what is at large... also a societal problems from individuals to businesses and governments.
    At some points, we have to focus our efforts for change on solidarity that must exist in order to change anything!
    You actually go a longer way with your money by investing in the community to unite people to share and create special events that eventually are no longer special but part of normal healthy living!

    August 14, 2009 at 5:14 pm |
  61. Bernard

    That's hilarious!! As a parent, have you ever tried giving a child a reward for bad behavior?? This is "adverse" psychology!! It will never work!! You have to take something away!! The only way to get people to lose weight is by making it "illegal" to be obese!! When you go over the speed limit, you are fined for the excess!! We should define, as a society, was is the permissible "overweight" limit and tax the excess!! The health system (and thus our individual pocketbooks) is already bearing the "weight" of these self-inflicted conditions.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  62. Kevin Washington

    First of all everyone is different ,big and small, short and tall.
    No one should pass jugement ,My suggestion is to maybe back away form the dinner table every once and a while and try to work out.

    Kevin CA.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  63. Diane Dagenais Turbide


    actually a thousand dollars could be spent to give to poor family for them to go with a nutritionist and redo their food cupboard and freezer with healthier foods! Other options are we need to create communities that shows healthy lifestyles by having more exercice and meditation parks, more bike and rollerskates paths as well as more community gardening, community coop where cooking classes, stress reduction and conflict resolutions are part of the programme. In other words, it always goes about why do we always focus on feeding the individual with the knowledge that they can fix on their own what is at large... also a societal problems from individuals to businesses and governments.
    At some points, we have to focus our efforts for change on solidarity that must exist in order to change anything!
    You actually go a longer way with your money by investing in the community to unite people to share and create special events that eventually are no longer special but part of normal healthy living!

    August 14, 2009 at 5:16 pm |
  64. Susan from Twin Falls Idaho

    I know that some Drs will not take you as a patient you if you continue with an unhealthy lifestyle. The fear of that would make me think twice about what I smoked, drank or ate.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:20 pm |
  65. Michael in Albuquerque, NM

    The person with the larger body is quite simply being categorised as a lesser citizen than his or her smaller countrymen.These campaigns to 'denormalize' obesity dehumanize whole categories of people, which is arguably the most damning statement possible.The obesity denormalization campaign is also worrisome because it wastes large sums of taxpayer money to satisfy the new Puritanism's anti-obesity agenda.A potentially greater worry, however, stems from the reality that this campaign represents a new and dangerous assault on our core democratic traditions of choice about risk and lifestyle. Like so much in the "war on obesity," denormalization is a very bad prescription for supposedly good public health.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:21 pm |
  66. DeeDee

    They need to use that money to offer P.E. and provide more healthy food choices in the school cafeterias.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:23 pm |
  67. Scott Stodden

    Jack I beleive we need to preach or teach more about healthy eating and exercise. I myself have never been obese, Im 5'9 150pd man so I dont know the struggles of being overweight or obese, I only know this, if I was overweight or obese being the type of person Iam I would simply eat healthy and exercise but not everybody in this country wories about being overweight or obese, what ever happened to people like Richard Simmons and exercise shows on television cuz I really dont beleive the health industry is focusing on this issue or disease the way they should cuz if they were there wouldnt be thousands of people overweight or obese in this country.

    Scott Stodden (Freeport,IL)

    August 14, 2009 at 5:28 pm |
  68. Rick Medina,OH


    You can educate and train people, and sometimes you can persuade them. But, in the end, people can only motivate themselves. The folks in Elgin can only support those who have made the commitment to a permanent life style change.

    Rick, Medina, OH

    August 14, 2009 at 5:32 pm |
  69. David Wehrle

    Perhaps the President can offer our Surgeon General nominee a financial incentive to get in shape. Dr. Benjamin could then lead by example.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:44 pm |
  70. Bill of Hewlett, NY

    The residents have always been able to exercise and learn how to eat properly. The problem is that they lack motivation. Determining why and addressing those underlying reasons is the right approach. The residents have emotional needs they believe can only be met with overeating, needs so strong that they will damage their health to satisfy them. Their lives must be made happy without overeating.

    August 14, 2009 at 5:58 pm |
  71. Layne Alleman

    Jack, With my living just down the road apiece from Elgin, I can tell you it's not just "their" problem, from what I see on T.V., and in print, this is nation-wide. Maybe it's just me, but I think this is linked to a larger problem; APATHY. Elgin's business community is on the ropes, result; APATHY. As a result, the school systems are lacking, result; APATHY. Why not check the test scores in their schools? Lets check out how many of those obese kids have obese parents( the twig doesn't fall far from the tree). Seriously, force them all to listen to one of Bill Maher's rants on processed foods, and they'll only chew on their lawn for the rest of their miserable lives. Layne A. Antioch, Il.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:06 pm |
  72. jaclyn

    If money can't motivate these people, give up.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  73. Art in WV

    What will ultimately work to eliminate obesity?

    The process of Natural Selection.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  74. Janet Elizabeth

    How about we force fast food restaurants to close their doors and that way everyone, including any skinny people, will eat healthier. If people can't be trusted to monitor themselves and not eat at McDonalds and Burger King, then I guess we should step in and monitor their eating habits. If you want people to eat healthier, then you have to get rid of the garbage food!

    August 14, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  75. David Martin

    If paying fat people to lose weight doesn't work, tax them by the pound.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  76. Dave

    If paying them money doesn't work, then start charging them money.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:14 pm |
  77. Jason

    Money. If giving money away for healthy living doesn't work, take it away for unhealty living.

    This can be in the form of "fat-food-taxes" like proposed on sodas and such in NY, or perhaps just increase the premiums on health care (much easier to do if Obama-care goes live)1

    Also, talk to the high schools. Require students take some form of P.E. class all 4 years. Teachers can help too. Buy a few pounds of apples, bananas, celery, carrots, etc and keep them in class for students to munch on.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  78. David

    Tax corporations who make products that have no nutritional value. You cannot tell me these products i.e. fast foods are not causing obesity. Nations around the world do not have the weight problems like we do, for a reason.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  79. Becky

    Overweight people need to be "scared straight". How about letting them visit people with diabetes to see the health problems they might be facing if they continue on their present course? Then let them take a half-day sugar test to see where they are on the scale. It might wake a few of them up.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  80. Ryan

    Only in America can you tell something that doing something simple will improve their health, lower their insurance and medical costs, and increase their lifespan and their quality of life, and STILL they ask "what's in it for me?"

    New Boston, Ohio

    August 14, 2009 at 6:15 pm |
  81. Aaron

    Nothing else probably will. Some people inherit fatness, so offering money may only lesson the effect but not eliminate it. That, I'm sure explains why some doctors are fat. Another solution could be by building more gyms and/or eliminating or reducing the membership fees.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  82. Samantha Edwards

    First, I think basic healthy food items should be made less expensive, and their contents scrutinized. Next, stricter regulation and control of the food industry – monitoring and studying long term affects of the chemicals and additives in fast foods and processed foods that these people eat. Has anyone actually studied this fat town?

    August 14, 2009 at 6:16 pm |
  83. john kinuthia,nairobi,kenya

    jack the biggest problem is how the message is being passed across,the best the govrnment can do is to regulate high calorie food just as is done with beer,

    August 14, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  84. Kathy Vista, CA

    I really think something needs to be done with our food industry – we all eat out a lot because of our busy schedules andportions are too large and everything is fried and covered with salty seasonings. For some reason we are all conditioned to eat everything on our plates, so maybe if there wasn't so much there to begin with we'd be able to lose a little weight.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  85. Jeff from Sugar Grove, IL

    Jack, you have two Golden Corrals and other all-you-can-eat buffets in an area already bulging with fast-food restaurants. Perhaps it's time someone squeezed in an all-you-can-eat salad bar...at least.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:18 pm |
  86. Britton, AZ

    Jack, if money isn't a good enough incentive then nothing is. It just goes to show you how lazy some people are. How could you turn down a thousand dollars to lose a few pounds and improve your health?! It's very very sad.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  87. Christopher (Canada)

    Easy ...

    First....everyone needs to buy a stationary bike
    Second ...all tv's in town will now work only by the peddle power of said bike...
    Lastly...the person that pedals the farthest ...

    gets the dough...so to speak

    August 14, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  88. Khatiza Van Savage

    I am an American living in Singapore and the sight of obese people are minimal due to constant education to raise awareness. Try doing something similar to what Singapore does to bring to all the attention of what smoking can do to your insides. Using all forms of media, they splash photos of it on road sides, movie halls, tv at home along with other forms of education. Why not show the obese what clogged arteries look like as a result of obesity due to poor eating habits. And then do a calculation of the cost of not taking preventive measures at an early age.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  89. James

    NO. Stop letting the fast food places and grocery stores to target the children. These places target the children and then the kids yell at their parents to go there for a happy meal that don't haave much in them and then the adults order the quarter pounders, big macs, whoppers then instead of the kid gaining the wieght the parents get it. Money to loose weight won't work, just cook at home.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:19 pm |
  90. Arlene, Illinois

    Jack, I live right down the road from Elgin, Illinois and can't for
    the life of me figure this thing out, but I'm willing to talk it over
    with you over a burger, fries, and a big drink next time your
    in town. "Burp", I have to go get some napkins now.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  91. Marsha from Kansas

    Jack: Nothing will work that happens from the outside. Like any addiction nothing can be done til the person decides that they are tired of being in the shape they are in. Those people will spend money for any product that says they can loose weight without changing their lifestyles. But til they are ready to change themselves nothing will work for them. And it will have to be because they want to be different– not because they should be different.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:20 pm |
  92. Peggy Kelly

    Behavorial Modification, how we think and how we change the way we live is the only "errmanent" answer. Lose weight for $ no, as everyone has lost weight to go to a wedding or a party or a class reunion. It never stays off and usually comes back plus some more. If you don't change how you think about food and how you live, you will never be successful for any length of time. It's all about choices, and knowledge is the only tool that helps us make healithy choices. Those people just weren't ready to committ to a new way of life and $ won't be an encentive

    August 14, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  93. Teresa

    Being originally from Minneapolis, I see how that city took its natural resources (lakes and rivers) and made them available to everyone. They have bike paths and walking paths around all the major lakes in the Twin Cities and also along the rivers. It makes it so easy to get out there and exercise without worrying about traffic and availability. It is there for everyone at no additional cost. I have not lived in Minneapolis for 24 years and I swear there is not a day that I don't miss those lakes.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:21 pm |
  94. Mead, Phoenix AZ

    Jack: Short of creating a society in which Big Brother monitors what we eat, requires mandatory workouts for everyone in America, brainwashes society into proper thinking, and limits corporate America's production of calorie-laden foods, it's just not going to happen.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  95. Joe in Missouri

    It gets back to healthcare Jack. I wouldn't object one iota if the insurance companies started putting limits on obese people that could do something about their weight. On the other hand the insurance companies could offer discounts for weight loss as well. Finding an incentive to make people lose weight and feel good about doing it is a win win proposition. Very few insurance companies have a "wellness plan" that actually works. At the very least, the children of these obese people should have a wellness counselor at school or after school activities. This pandemic has to be stopped.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:22 pm |
  96. Ben

    Well Jack it's simple. Give fat peope food, healthy food. I'm fat and I like to eat. Even some fat people like fruits and vegetables like me. Another possibity is a food voucher to their favorite restaurant that limits redemention to the diet menu! It's a start, but food alone won't accomplish it all!

    August 14, 2009 at 6:23 pm |
  97. Daniel from Maryland

    The psychology literature shows that losses hurt much more than gains please. So if incentives don't work, it needs sanctions. Health insurances condemn smoking and cancels insurances of people who are sick, but they do not seem to sufficiently incentivize living an otherwise healthy lifestyle that includes physical exercise and healthy nutrition. Therefore, for people who, through obesity, consciously or ignorantly increase their risk of acquiring diseases and conditions such as diabetes, heart attack, or stroke, insurance rates need to go up.

    One would think that overweight people should have an intrinsic interest in losing weight. But if nothing else works – as in the city in your report – sanctions are the last resort.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:25 pm |
  98. Kelly in Atlanta

    This is the nation of 'get more for your money'. Almost every dine in restaurant offers complimentary bread, chips or what have you and drive through locations every square block . There are also several 'all you can eat' (and then some) buffets located convenient distances from every home in America.

    Our modern conveniences have cost us our health as a whole. No one is outside anymore, they are inside, enjoying watching the outside on their T.V. and computers (the pixels in real life are far more beautiful if you ask me).

    With all that said, you can't force someone to do anything they don't want to do. We disdain the very mention of the word euthanasia but quickly widen booths and airplane seats to suit those killing themselves one doughnut at a time and that makes no sense to me.

    To answer your question Jack, nothing will work. This is the culture we have created. So it looks like we will be widening everything for years to come.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:26 pm |
  99. Ricky

    If money isn't a great enough incentive to get up and lose weight maybe pre-planned funerals with over-sized caskets will be.

    Ricky, Kansas

    August 14, 2009 at 6:27 pm |
  100. Allen - Indiana

    This is a wonderful idea, if I lived in Elgin, Illinois, I'd jump all over it if it was offered here in our town. I weighed over 300 lbs. for years, but for the last year I've lost 46 lbs. of weight on my own diet plan that I created. One meal a day, 12 – 16oz. bottles of Ice Mountain spring water per day and still losing weight.
    My wife weighed 450 lbs. last year, she has accomplished a 90lb. weight loss in one years time on my diet plan, down to 360lbs.

    YMCA Club Membership is way to expensive to join, during this economic recession, we cannot afford to use their facilities or we would use them.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  101. John, Fort Collins,CO

    The only thing thing that will get obese people's attention, and smokers attention, is if they are forced to pay for their share of the healthcare expense. People who step on scale and are deemed to be obese, and, or they smoke, should have to pay a significant premium for their medical insurance. Giving them money to encourage them to stay alive hasn't worked - let them pick up the tab for their bad habits.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:34 pm |
  102. Frank from Houston

    Of course bribes don't work. Obese people already know they could save money by eating less and that clearly hasn't swayed them. It's a matter of habit and convenience. If our government stopped subsidizing companies that produce highly processed foods and started subsidizing organic and natural agriculture then those healthier alternatives would eventually become convenient (accessible and cheaper). Then school lunches might steer away from soda and a bag of chips!

    August 14, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  103. Jeff from Sugar Grove, IL

    Take note, terrorists. Invest your money and time into the biggest, baddest chain of all-you-can-eat buffets...and we'll do the work for you.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:38 pm |
  104. Jeri Ratcliff, BSNRN

    Forget grants & prizes-give $4,000.00 ( average cost of medical expenses per year for an individual in AR) TAX REBATES/ CREDITS for everyone that will get a certified BMI from their local, state HEALTH DEPT. showing that they are in the green/healthy zone (25 or less)...Just like you get a driver's license or register a boat at an existing government entity . That will offer the incentive for people to loose weight!

    August 14, 2009 at 6:41 pm |
  105. Eugene M.D., Sacramento California

    Americans are accustomed to an immediate effect society. You cannot litigate or sufficiently motivate, as in this case, people who are fat to grossly obese unless they themselves want to change their entire pattern of how they look at food, how they look at themselves, how they look an exercise (and I'm not talking about bluffing up I'm just simply talking about 15 to 20 minutes a day of walking) and so forth. In order for people to lose weight the incentive has to be very high therefore I doubt that there is a significant amount of money being offered for this task. I know what I speak as a physician, I am struggling tremendously to lose the weight that I gain because of massive doses of prednisone therapy over many years. it is, however, not impossible task.

    August 14, 2009 at 6:42 pm |
  106. James Stone

    Nothing like that will work, Jack. People will live the way they want to. The game-changer for them to finally to modify their lifestyle would be an obesity-related, chronic health issue such as diabetes. Only then, will these people come to the paradigm shift towards food needed for a more healthy lifestyle. Short-term diets don't work!

    James Stone

    Saint George, Utah

    August 14, 2009 at 6:43 pm |