A huge sweetener will be dished out to overweight people when they prove they've beaten the blubber. And its reported the more pounds they take off, the more £s they'll get in their pockets.

The maximum payment will go, for instance, to a 15½st person who loses 50lb. He or she will pocket a whopping £425 for slimming to 12st.

Other payments would then follow on a sliding scale in the pay-as-you-go-smaller scheme. Someone who sheds 30lb will be rewarded with £160, and if they lose half that they'll pick up £70.

The NHS is buckling under the £1 billion it spends a year treating obesity-related diseases. NHS Health chiefs are also having to shell out thousands on special couches, weighing scales and blood pressure cuffs for overweight patients.

They reckon introducing fat-busting payments could save hundreds of millions in the long run, and help people live longer.

But the scheme is likely to attract criticism from some quarters as a jumbo waste of taxpayers' money.

  Below is one argument against giving the money and one for giving it.

By Carole Malone, News of the World columnist

FAT people know why they're fat. They eat too much. And no government is going to change that with something as simple as a bribe.

The only reason people lose weight is because THEY want to, NOT because someone pays them to. Yes, £500 might be a quick fix but it isn't a long-term solution because it doesn't involve the individual making a decision.

I've been fat. And I've been thin. And I know which feels best. As a kid my parents bribed me with extra pocket money if I didn't eat sweets so I wasn't teased. But the only time I've lost weight-and kept it off-was when I wanted to.

The government could make healthy food cheaper. But the bottom line is you can't force people to lose weight. Doctors can warn fatties about the health dangers, but until they decide to take their fate into their own hands they'll STAY fat.

By Winton Rossiter, founder of Weight Wins

AS another diet season swept over us in January, I asked myself: Why is it so difficult to lose weight, especially in the long term?

Often people join weight-loss groups and gyms only to drop out a few months later and put the weight back on. And home-exercise equipment usually ends up gathering dust.

The problem is a lack of motivation. All people want is a simple weight-loss goal and a reward for reaching it. So I decided to start a company.

Of course, there's nothing new about incentives to lose weight- people make informal weight challenges all the time. But we've designed a structured programme that maximises an individual's chances of success-and which REWARDS them for doing it.

And I decided to make the rewards big for maximum motivation.

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