Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Italian mayor offers diet subsidy

The mayor of a town in northern Italy is offering overweight residents a cash incentive to slim down.

Residents of Varallo Sesia who lose 3kg (6.6lbs) in one month are entitled to 50 euros (£34). A doctor must certify dieters as being overweight.

They can claim a further 100 euros if they keep the weight off for another five months.

Mayor Gianluca Buonanno said he came up with the scheme after his son called him "big belly".

"Dieting needs strong motivation, and I am trying to muster some collective will here," Mr Buonanno was quoted by Britain's Guardian newspaper as saying.

He said he wants to lose 6kg himself but will not claim any of the cash.

The scheme in the town of 7,400 people was announced on Friday and Mr Buonanno said there had been a queue to register over the weekend.

Italian Health Minister Livia Turco said Varallo Sesia was setting a positive example that more towns should follow.

Her ministry has said 28 million Italians are overweight - almost half the population - with five million people officially classified as obese.

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