Give incentives to improve lifestyles, NICE panel says

People should be given incentives to change their unhealthy lifestyles, according to a NICE committee.

The institute’s Citizens Council, comprising members of the public, backed incentive schemes to boost public health. Schemes offering supermarket vouchers to pregnant women to stop smoking, rewards for losing weight, and giving children toys for eating fruit and vegetables have been piloted.

Two-thirds of the citizen group backed the incentives, but said they should never be exchangeable for alcohol or tobacco.

Additional caveats included only offering incentives to people committed to changing their behaviour, offering them only as a last report, and subject to analysis of effectiveness.

NICE chairman Sir Michael Rawlins said: ‘The majority of the council has voted in favour of the use of incentives under certain circumstances, but this clearly remains a divisive issue.’

Members of the public and interested parties can submit comments on a NICE report until January.

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