Weight Loss in Dubai Is Earning Dieters Gold

Will a glittering incentive help a city curb its obesity problem?

Apparently, all rainbows lead to Dubai, United Arab Emirates -- and there's a pot of gold at the end. If its citizen lose weight, they can collect some gold.

The glittering city in the desert, famous for its lavish proliferation, from mega malls to man-made islands, is growing in other ways as well: namely, the ever-expanding waistlines of its citizens. More than half of Dubai’s inhabitants are now overweight. With wealth comes an abundance of food, calories and probably a little gluttony. So the local government is hoping that what feeds the problem can also solve it. More money.

The city is offering a gram of gold for every kilogram of weight lost during a 30-day challenge. Based on the going market rate for gold, that’s about $41 for every 2.2 pounds of paunch that gets trimmed. Participants must lose at least two kilograms by August 16 to earn their golden payout. (I didn’t realize Dubai was run by Willy Wonka). There’s no limit as to how much weight you can lose or gold you can earn. The deadline to sign up is this Friday, July 19. Makes you want to move to Dubai, right? No, me either.

Have you seen the weather reports for Dubai lately? Today is a cool 104 degrees, compared to 108-116 for the rest of the week. Not exactly the kind of weather you want to work out in.

Besides, is 30 days really enough time to make new healthy habits stick so you don’t gain the weight all back? Seems like a pretty expensive way to help people yo-yo their way to an even bigger belly size. And there's always ways to game the system: On the most recent episode of Extreme Weight Loss, contestant Mehrbod showed us exactly how easy it is to rig your scale and dupe your trainer into thinking you’ve shed 60 pounds when you’ve really gained it. To think that people aren’t going to try to tamper with those scales when there’s precious metal involved is, well, silly.

But what the heck? If you’ve got enough money to build the biggest mall in the world and maintain a green golf course in the middle of the desert, why not offer cash incentives to help citizens get thin for 30 days? It clearly won’t cure the obesity problem any time soon, but hopefully it will help at least a few people reach their weight loss goals, pick up some healthier eating habits and get a little richer in the process.

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