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Would vouchers encourage healthier living?

10:33 UK time, Sunday, 2 January 2011

Families in England are to be offered £250m in vouchers in a bid to encourage them to eat healthily and exercise. Would tokens inspire you to keep fit?

The food and fitness industries will pay for the "Great Swapathon" as part of the government's plans to involve business in the promotion of healthy living.

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: "It's a great example of how government, the media, industry and retailers can work together to help families to be healthy." He added: "The healthy option isn't always the cheapest option so it's a really important step to be able to offer £50 off healthier foods, drinks and activities."

But food policy experts have previously raised doubts about involving big brands in public health campaigns.

Will you apply for these vouchers? Would food vouchers, nutritional advice and discounted activities help you eat more healthily? Should businesses get involved with public health? Are you planning to live healthily in 2011?

Thank you for your comments. This debate is now closed.

Comments

Page 1 of 5

  • Comment number 1.

    Very doubtful . Whats not in doubt is despite a new administration nany state government appears here to stay.

  • Comment number 2.

    Another £250 million down the drain!

  • Comment number 3.

    No

  • Comment number 4.

    No.
    Let them pay for the gym at their expense ie stop eating the Buns,Burgers and Booze if they are the problem.
    Easy if you try.

  • Comment number 5.

    The only thing that really brings it home to those who need to lose weight is when either they find themselves short of breath or their doctor gives them a stern talking to. One has to be confronted with the daily discomfort of being overweight before there is any sense of urgency to deal with the problem.

  • Comment number 6.

    I live healthily anyway. If it saves me money, sign me up. :-)

  • Comment number 7.

    If Andrew "There will be no top down reorganisation imposed on the NHS" Lansley has anything to do with it it will of course be an utter disaster

  • Comment number 8.

    Highly unlikely. Those who want to stay fit & healthy will. The slobs that don't, won't. Just another waste of money.

  • Comment number 9.

    I'll certainly jump on the bandwagon and apply for anything that's going for free, largely on the basis of taking advantage of another ill-considered government idea that will result in a vast waste of public money when we cannot afford it.

    It won't make any difference to the people the government is aiming at. They'll still stuff their faces from dawn to dusk and beyond. The thought of getting off their fat backsides and actually walking more than twenty paces instead of lying recumbent in front of the telly won't occur to them. They are too ignorant and stupid to do anything else.

  • Comment number 10.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 11.

    The actions of your peer group and convenience I think are the two main driving forces. Bad habits breed bad habits. Certain geographical areas of the UK are noticeably worse in general health than others, well to do areas give the appearance of having shops that are better stocked with better quality food and people with the money and knowledge to make better choices. Voucher may help for some, but breaking habits encouraged by the surrounding social group and the retailers if much more difficult. The UK is just beginning to experience the cost implications of long term poor nutritional choices, encouraged in large by the main food retailers. I understand the argument that fresh nutritious food is expensive, it is, when supplied by multinational companies that use centralised distribution networks, pack everything and then keep it chilled. Living in Birmingham we have hundreds of supermarkets and one main outdoor market, the outdoor market is usually 30% cheaper for fresh produce than your main big four supermarkets. Supermarkets sell prepackaged highly processed items that cost little to make and provide high profit margins, better to overprice fresh produce so as to encourage the consumption of the more profitable lines. It is called free enterprise, but the consumer pays twice, once at the till and then again with a life of degenerative nutritional related disease. It really is very sad, but easily prevented.

  • Comment number 12.

    Would vouchers encourage healthier living NO to stop eating somthing you like is insane and to eat somthing you dont like is insane,moderation in everything.

  • Comment number 13.

    Typical BBC leftist bias....the food industry and Murdoch have nothing but altruistic intentions yet this hotbed of Marxist journos simply want to denigrate their efforts.
    It's not as if Andrew Lansley is the type of person who could be swayed by private concerns is it?As for those who suggest that is nanny state interference by allegedly small government or just another empty PR exercise.....well, you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  • Comment number 14.

    It's the indignant rectitude of the health fascists that offends me. Some people will find any excuse to feel "superior" to others.

  • Comment number 15.

    Is it just me, or is the relentless totalitarian intrusion into the personal lives of citizens governing what food they eat, becoming disturbing?

    Enemies are smiling all around us it appears.

  • Comment number 16.

    vouchers to buy healthy food so they can be bartered on for beer and fags

  • Comment number 17.

    I will definitely be applying for vouchers. Who wouldn't? The fact that I already eat healthily is irrelevant. People who do the right thing are very rarely rewarded. The apparent loophole in this barking mad idea means I will do my best to get through it, just to make a point. The only problem is that the website isn't working at the moment !!

  • Comment number 18.


    NOPE ! Just more food waste leading to a price increase in food !!!

    Try getting a Koala Bear , Panda or a Silk worm to change diet or give our dog five a day ... Hard ??? Well you have more chance of that ,than getting some people to eat ANY fruit or Veg.

    Education is the better way ..EXPLAIN why eating fruit and veg WITH Meat or Fish is important

    Didn't we have enough of this Rubbish From the Last Nanny or Nappy Labour Government

  • Comment number 19.

    What is this obsession with food vouchers.
    One minute they are offering them to the unemployed now to unhealthy people
    Is it just the Tories americanisation of Britain or is it paving the way for a cashless society that the banks want in 2030.
    What ever the reason it wont work if you want the poor to eat healtily pay them a working mans wage IE £10 an hour.
    Stop stripping the countries assets and do what you were elected to do and run this country to the best of your ability for the benefit of its British citizens

  • Comment number 20.

    13. At 12:23pm on 02 Jan 2011, Billythefirst wrote:

    Typical BBC leftist bias....the food industry and Murdoch have nothing but altruistic intentions yet this hotbed of Marxist journos simply want to denigrate their efforts.
    It's not as if Andrew Lansley is the type of person who could be swayed by private concerns is it?As for those who suggest that is nanny state interference by allegedly small government or just another empty PR exercise.....well, you should be ashamed of yourselves.
    __________________________________________________________
    Ha ha ha "the food industry and Murdoch have nothing but altruistic intentions" ha ha ha! And NO, I don't feel ashamed!

  • Comment number 21.

    Ha ha ha FOOD TOKENS!!! Why not just get rid of buses!

  • Comment number 22.

    One answer. Back off. I don't want your vouchers which will merely be used to support incompetent food manufaturers and stores who have wormed their way into nanny state's favour. I am not satisfied that the doctors and scientists who advise the state know which kinds of food are in our best interest.After all we have been told to eat meat products that produced so called mad cow disease, and looking back a couple of decades ago I recall tremendous efforts to promote lard as a source of health.

    This government needs to get its priorities right. Provide defence, security, a functional police force, and then get out of the way.

    As for cooperation from the media: does anyone listen to those moronic discussions on radio 4 concerning food and diet?

  • Comment number 23.

    rather than target resources to where they can be used in the most effective (including cost effective) way this is a free for all evidenced by the fact that the website appears to have crashed

  • Comment number 24.

    The website address in the comment By filling in a questionnaire on the Great Swapathon website, people can get access to £50 vouchers giving money off healthier food and activities is not working. Is there any reason for this?

  • Comment number 25.

    The government should put more efforts to help fulfill the basic needs of poor and unemployment people in recession, because I notice that there are more and more people stealing food and drink in the shop.

    Compare to people’s starving, healthy life style is far less important.

  • Comment number 26.

    22. At 12:36pm on 02 Jan 2011, Dr Llareggub wrote:

    This government needs to get its priorities right. Provide defence, security, a functional police force, and then get out of the way.

    --------------------------------

    Dead right. Labour irritated me no end with all their nanny state waste of taxpayers money nonsense and now the new lot are at it.

  • Comment number 27.

    The website address in the comment By filling in a questionnaire on the Great Swapathon website, people can get access to £50 vouchers giving money off healthier food and activities is not working. Is there any reason for this?

    ---
    Not working an initiative from this train wreck of an unelected government,now that's a shock!

  • Comment number 28.

    If there is any way to improve the health of our population I suppose vouchers are worth a try. I must say I am doubtful but won't knock it until I see how it goes.

    Goverments down the years have always felt the need to improve the lot of its citizens so why should this coalition be any different?

    My personal opinion is that celeb chefs are too wrapped up in fancy recipes that show off their talents as cooks. Maybe good old fashioned meat pies, puddings and stews should make a come back. As my late mother would say as she put such a dish on our table 'this will line your stomach'. It didn't do us any harm and I am certain this sort of food is cheaper than processed rubbish on the supermarked shelves.

    We owe a debt of gratitude to Jamie Oliver who has, at least made an attempt. OK cynics might say he has made a very good living at the same time what does that matter? Power to his elbow.

  • Comment number 29.

    Will we have an independent public report, distributed to the news media, on whether this worked or not? Or is it a case of "spend £250 million nationwide, blow trumpets if it works and bury it if it doesn't"? Has this been piloted in a few small areas to see if it works? (Probably not - there hasn't been time.)

    I wish this government would get serious about dealing with the country's debts, instead of playing politics with our money.

  • Comment number 30.

    No. Another daft waste of time and money. What is wrong with this government that I was so hopeful about? They are starting to sound as bad as the last lot! Clearly there are too many MPs when they are scratching around for things to do and this is the best they can come up with! I really don't want to pay tax on the pension I have worked all my life for to pay for things like this.

    I always live as healthy a lifestyle as possible. I know that over Christmas and New Year I have indulged in a little too much unhealthy food and drink (Christmas cake, mince pies, champagne, sherry etc!) but I am now back on track diet wise. I also get up early and take my dog for a long walk every single day of the year, except when I am too ill to get out of bed, which happened once this year when I had an exceptionally high temperature. Howling gales, rain, hail, fog, blizzard, foot deep or more snow, lethal ice, whatever, never a day is missed on account of the weather. I even spent weeks walking in agony last summmer with what turned out to be a cracked rib, caused by coughing! My husband does the afternoon walk so he gets his fresh air and exercise too and sometimes we do both together, time permitting.

    I have a chronic respiratory problem and am waiting for the results of a scan for possible osteoporosis. Walking is good for both and I know how important it is to keep fit, healthy and slim and to eat a healthy diet. My quality of life is the only incentive I need, not other people's money being thrown at me.

  • Comment number 31.

    I thought we'd got rid of all this cobblers when the control freak Blair went.

  • Comment number 32.

    Sounds great - I'll be on the lookout for a couple of McDonalds vouchers so I can collect my scrumptious 'burgers on the drive-thro; I just wish the collection hatches were a little higher.....

  • Comment number 33.

    No.
    This will make no difference to the Fatty family,staggering around Tesco with a trolley full of cakes,crisps and fizzy drinks.If the Government was really interested in the health of the nation then it would ban cigarettes.

  • Comment number 34.

    I think its patronising and insulting coming from an adminstation who has never been more out of touch with peoples every day lives. Im sorry but I don't buy all this rubbish about building a better society through initiatives funded by commerce. The only thing commerce is interested in is selling us stuff. I do not trust this government. They are just mouth pieces for big business and I deeply distrust their motives.

  • Comment number 35.

    Another stupid suggestion from the government what a waste of money and they keep harping on that we need to make cuts, The answer is simple if you want to make people healthier and eat healthier then reduce the cost of those items, healthy liing and foods that are good for you are so expensive thats why no one buys them cut the VAT would be a start.

  • Comment number 36.

    2. At 11:43am on 02 Jan 2011, Clive Hamilton wrote:

    Another £250 million down the drain!


    Yes, but I think the food and fitness industries can afford it.

  • Comment number 37.

    Wow.... just got my first voucher - it's brilliant, if I buy £10 worth of flab fighters youghurt I get a half price Southern Chicken family bucket and 10p off the Sun -wahey!
    See, you cynics, this government really does want to help the man in the street.

  • Comment number 38.

    Yet another way to waste my money. I was told by Osbourne that the cuts were necessary. I lose out on over 2% of my income this year along with a lot more pensioners! Yet we can throw away millions on schemes like these!

  • Comment number 39.

    I cannot believe that anyone with a IQ over 35.5 seriously believes this is an idea which will actually reap any worthwhile results. Stop wasting our money, government! Stop recruiting air-headed *graduates* who don't have the first idea of how REAL people have to live, and start improving teaching standards.

  • Comment number 40.

    It will just give the fat slobs more money on which to pig out. Maybe a bit of compulsory exercise would be a better idea. Shut down daytime TV, then make the lazy and obese do a couple of hours exercise every day to keep them from stuffing themselves with food.

  • Comment number 41.

    38. At 1:12pm on 02 Jan 2011, recrec wrote:

    Yet another way to waste my money. I was told by Osbourne that the cuts were necessary. I lose out on over 2% of my income this year along with a lot more pensioners! Yet we can throw away millions on schemes like these!


    "The food and fitness industries will pay for the "Great Swapathon" as part of the government's plans to involve business in the promotion of healthy living."

  • Comment number 42.

    My mother is 88 how will this help her . Should she go out jogging every day or stop eating some things . Does this fall foul of equality.

  • Comment number 43.

    Healthy Living? Please note who is supporting this "enterprise". An old saying is to "follow the money". This is intended to get more people on to the Hicarb/Lofat diet when study after study shows that Locarb/Hiprotein or Locarb/Hifat are superior in terms of weight gain and diabetes. But the KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) status and remunerations (money and kind) are at stake and they never admit being wrong. Remember VIOXX and tens of thousands of deaths; this adverse reactgion was known about 3.5 years before it was finally taken off the market.

  • Comment number 44.

    It will be a waste of OUR money. More money to the feckless who do not care about themselves or their families (or anyone else). Some families NEVER have a meal cooked from home, they go to the 'chippy' for EVERY meal. I do not think the ministers really understand the type of people we are dealing with. These are not the aspirational working class, these are a new underclass of feckless, lazy, immoral degenerated humans. No amount of money can save them.

  • Comment number 45.

    Absolutely not. There are limits on what the government should do to protect people from their own stupidity. Let's not interfere with nature. Species evolve through survival of the fittest and the dumbest in the population will eliminate themselves from the gene pool in due course.

    Those living healthy lifestyles should be rewarded with tax cuts as they are net contributors to society rather than the fat slobs who are usually net consumers of our taxes. Those who take drugs or drink or smoke shouldn't have a penny spent on them.

    Reward success, not failure.

    I'm disappointed that the coalition government is continuing Zanu Labour's policy of rewarding failure.

  • Comment number 46.

    50 quid will hardly go far. I've just spent 25 quid on healthy food that will only last a few days or a week at most. Are we to be able to claim 50 quid each week? If not, then it's not going to make any difference whatsoever.

  • Comment number 47.

    I see they have used the 'F' word - Families. Isn't this discrimination?

    Agree with poster # 2 - £250 million down the drain.

  • Comment number 48.

    42. At 1:20pm on 02 Jan 2011, HonestMP wrote:

    My mother is 88 how will this help her . Should she go out jogging every day or stop eating some things . Does this fall foul of equality.


    The worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal.

  • Comment number 49.

    £50 off healthier foods, drinks and activities.
    ok how about a £50 voucher off of diesel so i can
    get to my activities then maybe people might start
    to like the government for giving us something instead
    of taking something off us !

  • Comment number 50.

    We drink too much.
    We smoke too much.
    We don't eat healthy enough.
    We don't excersise enough.
    Everyone in Europe have much better lifestyles.
    ONE COMMON DENOMINATOR!
    On average we work 20 hours a week more than they do.
    You want us healthier???
    Give us more social time like the rest of Europe.
    Enforce the 40 hour working week maximum and ban the disclaimers we are forced to sign.

  • Comment number 51.

    Anyone wishing to give me free food is more than welcome to do so.

    However, in this foodie household, good cooking is the norm. Handouts won't change that in the slightest. Meals from scratch (the pork for an afelia has been marinating away since last night ready for today's dinner, the potatoes await peeling and dicing...), lots of fruit and veg.

    No doubt the busybodies will whine that we actually season food correctly, use cream in sauces, make our own chips, and that dinner usually washed down with a glass of wine!

  • Comment number 52.

    I share the professor's concerns about big business being involved.

    Take the supermarket concerned - growing/importing fruit and veg from outside of the UK and outside of the strict food standard laws, covered in gas waxes

    Check the company that own the website (being promoted by the BBC)
    owned and run by a marketing, data collection company, whose privacy policies shown on the website, do not even cover the website itself and refer only to nhs websites!
    they are not allowed to sell individual data on to other companies, but they dont tell people they are allowed to sell on statistical analysis of the data submitted.... i wonder who will benefit from this? the big businesses involved in the scheme per chance???

  • Comment number 53.

    45. At 1:25pm on 02 Jan 2011, Wu Shu wrote:

    Absolutely not. There are limits on what the government should do to protect people from their own stupidity. Let's not interfere with nature. Species evolve through survival of the fittest and the dumbest in the population will eliminate themselves from the gene pool in due course
    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Survival of the winners of wars then?

  • Comment number 54.

    44 You're not really from the dark side are you?

  • Comment number 55.

    I have no need for vouchers because you would be preaching to the converted here.

    I disagree with the point made by Andrew Lansley that healthy food is often more expensive. If we pay for fresh non-manufactured food it is cheaper. Healthy options within that category are cheaper because cost has not been added by the manufacturing process. Examples include fresh fruit, vegetables, low fat meats like chicken, fish, milk, free range eggs, pulses and whole grains, including wholemeal baker's bread.

    I find it laughable that a company like Warburtons should be allowed to support this campaign. They manufacture a nasty substance they have the cheek to call bread. It doesn't taste or feel like bread and almost certainly isn't very good for you.

    I accept the case that vouchers aimed at targeted foods might work for those of us needing some nanny state support. (There is a place for it!!)

  • Comment number 56.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 57.

    #50 A laudable but regretfully unachievable aim.

    Unscrupulous employers will always find ways to manipulate employees and continue the unpaid overtime culture - it's so easy when jobs are scarce (just as the tories like it).

  • Comment number 58.

    I stay fit because I chose to.
    This idea is a Total waste of money and more namby pamby government rubbish. If people want to be fat and die of heart attacks, cancers and other things, and basically die before their time then all well and good, let them, it is non of my business nor that of the governments.

  • Comment number 59.

    When the site decides to work we will take a look and rad the small print - there is usually a catch that means we won't qualify! If by some strange anomaly we actually qualify for these vouchers we'll apply for them. We already eat healthily but won't snub the vouchers as the government screws us in so many other ways!

    So we're one fine example of a way in which this scheme will not work - the vouchers will mostly go to people who don't live on junk food anyway. People who don't want the vouchers will trade them for other items.

    Are any of us fooled by the reality of the scheme? The firms funding it will simply put their prices up to cover their costs - so we will all pay for the discounts in the long run.

    Why are the vouchers being given out at Asda? Is this government going to behave in the same way as the last one where supermarkets are concerned? We all went to the polls to elect a government - nobody got the government they wanted but that is more than a tad irrelevant as the supermarkets have more say in the running of our country than our elected MPs ever will!

    Also I am concerned that schemes like these are just forerunners to welfare food vouchers replacing benefits - a Dickensian and demeaning ideology that would leave the worst off in our society unable to afford healthy food and with no choice about where they shop (excluding them from buying cheaper healthier foods) - this would impact on EVERYBODY as the moment that welfare food vouchers begin the supermarkets will put ALL their prices up as they will have a trapped consumer base.

  • Comment number 60.

    At 1:34pm on 02 Jan 2011, Billythefirst wrote:
    44 You're not really from the dark side are you?

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    I have lived with them. Have you?
    I see many views from middle class armchair socialists who have never lived or been near many areas which have 'social problems'.
    I HAVE seen the dark side and I will NOT support it but oppose it. History (and life) has shown us that sometimes assistance can be a vice and that doing nothing can be a virtue. My view (gained through experience) is the main problem with a growing underclass is that WE support them too much and they do NOT take responsibility for their OWN life and actions.
    A HUGE dose of reality is needed by many in our country

  • Comment number 61.

    The supermarkets should tell they customers , Whats in the so called foods, they sell in plain english.{ not warning lights}

  • Comment number 62.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 63.

    If it stops or encorages people to think of there health, instead of continuing there unhealthy life style, then yes. Unfortunatly how it managed, may also be its let down, lets face it, no big organsisation that is dependant on profit, will give there profit away without a return.

    In past we have seen many larger food corporations get involved with health, we see that with certain brand named margarine companies regarding cholestrol, yet fat quantity in it's products is still higher than many others. Large diet companies have been involved with our diets in USA and recently under the old political regieme here in UK, yet have we seen any difference, other than more still more confussion on ingrediants, or professionals having to tow party/company lines, as such not able to give own unbiased advice.

  • Comment number 64.

    Living in the US (that has a bigger obesity issue than the UK), five minutes of research at your local grocery store will show you that one of the biggest myths/lies is that healthy food is expensive.

    One of the great triumphs of capitalism is how affordable food is in Western society - and this includes food of all kinds. Milk, bread, eggs, fruits and vegetables, cereal - these are among the cheapest food items on grocery store shelves. All of them healthy and nutritious. So what's this nonsense about "subsidizing" healthy foods? Milk and eggs not cheap enough already?

    One suspects that the "healthy food" the government is referring to here are the high range new age food and nutrition bars/stores - but that does not mean the poor can't buy and consume water cheaper than soda, cereal cheaper than burgers, chicken cheaper than beef, vegetables cheaper than pizza and fruit cheaper than candy.

  • Comment number 65.

    60. At 2:03pm on 02 Jan 2011, AuntieLeft wrote:
    My view (gained through experience) is the main problem with a growing underclass is that WE support them too much and they do NOT take responsibility for their OWN life and actions.
    A HUGE dose of reality is needed by many in our country
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    We talking about the banks?

  • Comment number 66.

    And exactly what do the food and leisure industries know about health? That it is very profitable to charge high entry prices for swimming pools, or food dubiously marked "only natural substances used"? If the Coalition is serious then return the ownership of pools to local councils and charge lower prices, and start policing the food industry properly.

    Who else is in the Coalition bed for pity sake?

  • Comment number 67.

    "What ever the reason it wont work if you want the poor to eat healtily pay them a working mans wage IE £10 an hour." No 19

    Leaving aside the economic implications of raising the minimum wage to £10 (mass unemployment and double digit inflation), I don't think that money has anything to do with the lack of healthy eating.

    I spend about £25 per week on food and eat pretty well. I could quite easily get it down to £20 without losing any nutrition (it would just get a bit repetitive).

    I fail to believe that even the poorest in society can't afford that amount. The main problem to me seems to be the quantities of food people eat. This would suggest that money is not the problem.

  • Comment number 68.

    LOL

    Companies supporting the government's scheme include Asda, Birds Eye, Unilever, Nestle, Mars, Warburtons and Weight Watchers.

    Do you know how MUCH SUGAR is in a loaf of Warburtons bread.

    Healthy eating my foot.

    This is basically a red light for certain companys to promote themselves and their products with the added bonus of gaining recognition for healthy foods.

    Already there are so many outrageous claims of healthy food by manufacturers.

    Even chicken is unhealthy in comparison to 20/30 years ago due to the way they are reared and then further detrimental production methods via injecting saline & other solutions into them, containing salt/sugars.

  • Comment number 69.

    "It's a great example of how government, the media, industry and retailers can work together to help families to be healthy."
    What utter rubbish the above comments are,it,s more like the government
    helping the food industry and retailers make more money by kidding the consumer into thinking all the food that we find on our supermarkets shelves is "healthy" when it is NOT. Also bear in mind that a large number of the government MPs are shareholders in the food industry and retail outlets.

  • Comment number 70.

    Talk about killing flies with a fly swatter!
    Why are we always picking on the consumer. If foods that contained too much sugar and salt (and anything else bad for health) were simply banned, the businesses would soon fix their own problem.
    The food and fitness industries have a finger in the cookie-jar; I mean they have a vested interest in buinsesses selling sugary, trans fat concoctions so fitness industries can step to the rescue of our little fatties.
    Big firms also have a vested interest; at whom do you think sugary breakfast cereals are aimed, or sugary soda, or greasy fried foods?
    No, I think this is Government business, and it has to do with advertising. The advertising on food must be 100% accurate. If the food manufacturer declares it's product contains 25% of all bran required; then, it had better contain 25% of all bran required. If it says that it contains certain vitamins, it had better contain all these vitamins.
    By filling in a questionnaire on the Great Swapathon website, people can get access to £50 vouchers giving money off healthier food and activities, but, but, but...What are people eating the rest of the time, and why? I can some strawberries, right after my eight pancakes, laden with butter and pancake syrup!
    This is another Coalition Government impulsive program that will waste plenty of taxpayer money before it sees the lack of wisdom.
    You don't stop poor nutrition as it shows up on the kitchen table; you stop poor nutrition on the manufacting table. So, give your vouchers to manufactuers and while you're handing them over, tell them: "Thence forward, you ads, your package descriptions, your package content had better match up, or you will find yourself in court, likely fined big money. You will also find yourself under a period of monitoring."
    The new year is a great time to think about making some small changes to be a little bit healthier, but these choices must be clear to the consumer - no half-filled packaging, no omissions from content labelling, no get off free for selling what is essentially garbage.
    Dig this line: "You should try to eat five portions of fruit and veg every day." How about pestiside-free, essentially organic, and absolutely no generic manipulation?

  • Comment number 71.

    Why is it mainly that the Poor people in UK Society eat more junk foods in the first place? Answer, - Cost of buying many healthy alternatives.

    So right you get a Voucher that allows you something off of one product that even if you could afford to buy it, you would'nt because you quite simply don't like that particular product.

    The answer is of course, is to either/both reduce the cost of expensive products and/or raise the amount in State Benefits that the Poor are paid, and forget this un-workable Voucher non-sense.

  • Comment number 72.

    What about all those of us that are a family of one! Its hard working family this, another tax break for hard working families that...does that mean those of those that are unmarried are lazy?

  • Comment number 73.

    If the government can raise duty on fuel, booze and cigarettes, maybe they should add a fat tax on fast food? Make a Mickey D more expensive than the healthy food and you know what will happen

  • Comment number 74.

    What pure crap!

    If they cant get a simple website to work for more than 5mins, how can they improve people's lives?!

    Try it : https://swapathon.co.uk

    Obviously, out of this £250M spent, none was spent on their website/servers/bandwidth/processing-power etc etc...

  • Comment number 75.

    A FAT tax of 20% should be applied and the money ring fenced to pay for later health problems.

    The government are always bleating on about giving people choice so let them choose but make them pay for the problems they are creating later in their lives.

    This should have also been done with tobacco and alcohol but instead the government bleats on about product abuse but then spends the taxes raised on politically motivated wasteful projects.

  • Comment number 76.

    A FAT tax of 20% should be applied and the money ring fenced to pay for later health problems.

    The government are always bleating on about giving people choice so let them choose but make them pay for the problems they are creating later in their lives.

    This should have also been done with tobacco and alcohol but instead the government bleats on about product abuse but then spends the taxes raised on politically motivated wasteful projects.

  • Comment number 77.


    It is indecent a "High Technologic Society" should need voucher issuing at all.
    Everyone should have enough income to buy healthy, nutritional, food.

    While some of the rich will say "Why can I not get free vouchers?";
    Some people IN THE UK are BELOW the bread line and VAT is about to increase.

    Again the poorest of the nation (paying VAT Taxes) will pay for those who better off.

  • Comment number 78.

    Citing China where prosperity has-seen the better-off developing obesity with the move to Western-diets adding-food to food makes more-sense.
    Most everything contains contaminants [preservatives, colouring...]; no-point exercising... when the fresh-raw apple, pear, strawberry... on-your-plate is toxic.

  • Comment number 79.

    I thought we do not have any more money to throw around on gimmicks!

  • Comment number 80.

    https://swapathon.co.uk

    Poor Show! Doing the questionaire results in this :

    Server Error in '/' Application.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The connection was not closed. The connection's current state is connecting.
    Description: An unhandled exception occurred during the execution of the current web request. Please review the stack trace for more information about the error and where it originated in the code.

    Exception Details: System.InvalidOperationException: The connection was not closed. The connection's current state is connecting.

    Source Error:

    An unhandled exception was generated during the execution of the current web request. Information regarding the origin and location of the exception can be identified using the exception stack trace below.

    Stack Trace:

    etc etc etc

  • Comment number 81.

    The site decided to work but there is no information about the vouchers!

    We filled in the questionaire but when it got to the final stage it returned an obscure error message and refused to accept our submission - so we will never know anything about how the vouchers can be claimed.

    Good luck to anyone else with time to try this!

  • Comment number 82.

    Vouchers might work if it limits the type of food that can be purchased by it. I think England could save a lot of money by just feeding students breakfast and lunch then at least that way you could be assured that a child is being fed two healthy meals a day. Many children come to school whithout having any breakfast because parents are often running late. Breakfast would help children concentrate better in school. You can make breakfast a fun, cultural learning experience by serving whole wheat crepe sandwiches, tacodillas, japanese miso soup and salmon over brown rice. Kids will eat anything if you make it interesting and delicious enough.

  • Comment number 83.

    This is typical government nannying and of course it won't work. Many people will just take up the vouchers, maybe buy a few veg. and carry on with their chosen lifestyle - healthy or otherwise.
    As a taxpayer I don't want to subsidise this nonsense. There's already been an excess of publicity on healthy living, so anyone who wishes to eat healthily knows how - and IT DOES NOT COST MORE !! As with smoking, if some insist on unhealthy eating they risk illness and early death. Fine, it is NOT MY PROBLEM.

  • Comment number 84.

    I DONT trust government with expenses, LET ALONE anything else!!!

    If UNhealthy eating is so terrible, then why not introduce rationing, especially pies, why just pick on smokers.

    MOST people who join weightwatchers FAIL. They so often do the plans, then go backwards & have to start all over again, hence weightwatchers make LOADS of money because they know it is an ENDEMIC cycle.

    Might be FREE to join, but it COSTS a pretty penny, which incidently the costs/profit is built into the scheme.

  • Comment number 85.

    13. At 12:23pm on 02 Jan 2011, Billythefirst wrote:
    Typical BBC leftist bias....the food industry and Murdoch have nothing but altruistic intentions yet this hotbed of Marxist journos simply want to denigrate their efforts.

    ////

    Hahahaha! That really made me laugh out loud. Posting on HYS literally has become a joke and a frivolous persiflage. Not even Speak Your Branes appears to bother coming here anymore.

  • Comment number 86.

    The government should get on with mending this crippled society's inferstructure, repairing roads and the ecconomy before interfering in personal preferences, we already know what is good or bad for us, let us decide!!

  • Comment number 87.

    Would vouchers encourage healthier living?


    Not if they are printed on sugar paper

  • Comment number 88.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 89.

    I like this idea, and I reckon it will influence people. But whilst I have done the questionnaire, I see nothing offering vouchers? If they are only available in the News of the World (which isn't worth buying to get them) or ASDA (which I don't have nearby) then many will struggle to get hold of any vouchers.

  • Comment number 90.

    There are two new HYS topics today, coincidentally (or not) to do with health. One is this one; the other concerns a smoking ban in another country.

    Let's have a little joined-up thinking for once, shall we?

    If everybody lives a "healthy" lifestyle (and who decides what is healthy and what is not? Vested interests, I suppose, as ever) we shall all live longer lives - obviously.

    Now, where are we all going to be housed, how are we all going to be fed, who is going to pay all the additional costs of infrastructure, transport and inevitably the NHS (yawn, yawn) to support us all?

    It is not in anyone's interests to have a population that lives indefinitely, unless we also sterilise everyone. All this nanny state nonsense, eat this, don't drink that, and all the pointless restrictions and controls imposed for our own good or to "save lives" are just so much hogwash. In an overpopulated world, what we actually need is a lot more "unhealthy" eating to get the numbers down. It would be a good idea to encourage smoking for the same reason, and don't forget all the lovely tax revenue.

    Meanwhile, could we one day, please, have a government that governed and not a collection of control freaks fiddling while the country disintegrates? Worth trying, perhaps?

  • Comment number 91.

    Bearing in mind the mothers handing junk food through playground railings to their chidren when healthy meals were introduced in schools, I really have my doubts (so they had money to provide food which wasn't necessary!)

    I am sure it will be a godsend for some, but I am not sure that it is going to be terribly effective.

  • Comment number 92.

    Smokers pay extortionate tax, so do drinkers, so why dont big overweight people pay more for the damage & costs they afflict, even bus & other transport is like carrying 2 people, hence more fuel & wear & tear.

    Lorrys pay more due to their size, bigger cars are taxed more, so why not bigger people, then this gives them the incentive to lose weight & save/gain money.

  • Comment number 93.

    Pretty soon they will be a necessity as people won't be able to afford food anyway (especially those whose commuter train fares are soaring way above inflation).

    What makes anyone think that vouchers will make the pie gobbling, chip dipping, crisp eating Fizzy drink swigging, lard creatures change their taste's !!! Unless they can swap them for Burgers or pizza.

  • Comment number 94.

    People are fat simply because they are lazy. They'll bring out the same lazy excuses about how eating healthy food costs more, but it only costs more if you are too lazy to shop only in supermarkets. Local fruit & veg stores are far cheaper, and have a far greater selection of produce.

    So rather than trying to bribe the lazy to get off their fat behinds, I would personally rather they just learnt the lessons themselves the hard way, and saves my tax money from being wasted yet again.

  • Comment number 95.

    Please can we have an HYS about the fact that fuel duty has just been increased and that shortly VAT will do the same?

    This will push up the costs of everything, including "healthy" food, thus pricing things out of people's reach, again.

    This is far more important to this nation, its propserity and its recovery, than silly vouchers for salads and apples.

  • Comment number 96.

    I almost forgot - we have a new government. Didn't they preach less intervention in people's lives, less nannying? They're beginning to sound just like the last lot. Get off our backs, you fools, you're supposed to be running the country not teaching us how to eat.

  • Comment number 97.

    I thought we'd gotten rid of Nu-Labour?

  • Comment number 98.

    I've been on a 1800 calorie noodle stir-fry, pasta and vegetable juice diet for eight weeks now. I have a satisfying amount to eat, and I exercise moderately for 30 minutes daily - rowing machine and mini-stepper, on alternate days. I eat twice daily, at 10:00 and 20:00, and it costs about £8 per day. If I snack, it's a clementine or grapes.
    I've lost 7 kg so far, or about 2 lb a week in old money, and that includes an average daily consumption of 4 units of alcohol. Yes I know, but I need a life outside dieting.
    I neither need nor want Government meddling in my life.
    I'm well aware of the need to lose weight and get fitter, and I'll manage it myself, thank you very much Mr. Andrew Lansley, so keep your vouchers.

  • Comment number 99.

    "41. At 1:20pm on 02 Jan 2011, Magi Tatcher wrote:

    "The food and fitness industries will pay for the "Great Swapathon" as part of the government's plans to involve business in the promotion of healthy living."

    Er, no! The customers of the food and fitness industries will actually be the ones paying. Interesting to note that "fitness" is now considered an industry in a nation that used to be the workshop of the world, but that's another story.

  • Comment number 100.

    Once again the mere mention of the word 'obesity' brings out the holier than thous and the armchair fascists, most of whom probably have lifestyles every bit as 'unhealthy' as those who are visibly bigger but the genetic good fortune for it not to show and thus mark them as targets in a society which has become pathologically obsessed with fat people to the exclusion of many other issues of genuine concern. Of course this is exactly the way the media, which has spent the last decade inciting the kind of hatred that is all too visible on this thread, likes it - a brainwashed population convinced through daily repetition of the stupid / greedy / irresponsible stereotypes that a minority group who by and large pay their taxes, obey the law and don't cause anywhere near as much trouble as (say) the bankers are legitimate targets for their hatred and vim. Why else would the Beeb mods permit (and encourage) language which if employed against any other distinct group would be considered foul of House Rules on respect and offence which apparently apply only to thin people?

    As I've pointed out before, the allegedly universally accepted, so-called obesity crisis is in fact a sham, a moral panic of epic proportions. The whole obsession with weight only really goes back to the 1998 recalibration of the BMI, the flawed and overly draconian scale on which the whole thing is based. Claims that 25% of the population are 'obese' ignore the 75% who are not, or the fact that most of those who are are around the BMI 30 mark which several studies indicate confers an actual advantage in terms of life expectancy and condition survivability - the so-called obesity paradox. Those of BMI 40+ who feature in Ch4 'shockumentaries' and whose images accompany obesity articles form between 2 and 4% of those labelled 'obese' and less than 1% of the total population. And no, I didn't learn that from the BBC but by reading around the topic including suppressed studies and viewpoints now every bit as marginalised as fat people themselves.

    This exaggeration of the extent and risks is a classic feature of Cohen's moral panic, a modern day witch-hunt against an easy target who aren't organised and indeed have been deliberately prevented from becoming so in the face of immense, externally-imposed stigma by what sociologists refer to as the 'fantasy of being thin'. For most people permanent, safe, achievable weight loss is a myth but one which persists to the extent that they will submit themselves gladly to dangerous surgeries and ultra low-calorie diets in order to achieve their rightful place as full members of society. This is not a legitimate area for Government / legislative involvement. If people want to pursue weight loss (or not) it should be an entirely personal matter of individual conscience, not one influenced and informed by shame, discrimination, hatred, financial or other incentives, or the coercion which will become increasingly common now local authorities have been invited to involve themselves in this.

    Like other anti-obesity initiatives this scheme is a disgraceful waste of money at a time when real health issues are being neglected and frontline funding cut. Not least because no such progamme or scheme has EVER been clinically proven to bring about a significant, lasting reduction in BMI amongst the target population (so much for evidence-based medicine). This won't satisfy anyone - certainly not the public health fascists, who rue the involement of big brands, and will serve only to breed further resentment amongst the virtuous thin that what they see as their taxes are being mis-spent indulging / 'fixing' the undeserving obese. Maybe that's their real intention. When they've finished with the fatties, who will they come for next, and will there be anyone left to speak up for you?

 

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