Pay children 22,000 kroner to not get fat, suggests Danish politician

Venstre regional councillor Jørgen Winther argues that the incentive will be recouped through the lowering of the costs of weight-associated diseases such as diabetes

Children should be given 22,000 kroner as a confirmation present should they not be overweight at the time of the ceremony, according to Venstre regional councillor Jørgen Winther and his partner Ulla Lægaard, a specialist doctor in child and adolescent psychiatry.

The pair have apparently approached Bertel Haarder, the former Venstre minister, about fine-tuning the proposal, which also suggests repeating the incentive for the youngsters’ 18th and 25th birthdays – although it is unlikely that could mean three payouts.

Cost would be recouped
Winther, a councillor at Region Midtjylland, told Horsens Folkeblad that “overweight people are seriously increasing health costs in Denmark” and that young people “need a loving push”.

Winther’s proposal would cost 1 billion kroner a year, but he contends this would swiftly be recouped.

Not only are Danes currently spending 100 million kroner a day on diabetes treatment, he argues,  but there would be massive savings across the health system – from treating other weight-associated diseases to eliminating the need for extra-sized operating tables and beds.

Healthier but heftier
There are more overweight people than ever before – 16.8 percent of the population in 2017, compared to 5.5 percent in 1987, according to Idrættens Analyseinstitut.

However, conversely perhaps, the proportion of the population who claim they exercise regularly has risen from 42 to 61 percent during the same time period, and most Danes have never been healthier or had longer life expectancies.

Polarisation of society
Morten Grønbæk, the head of the Statens Institut for Folkesundhed health body, contends that this demonstrates a huge polarisation in society between the well-off and the economically disadvantaged.

Poor people in Denmark, he says, are more likely to smoke, be obese and have an inferior standard of living to Danes living in the 1980s. They are also more susceptible to embracing the Americanisation of Danish food culture.

“The overall picture is a healthier one,” he told TV2 News. “But there is a definite social imbalance in society that is getting worse and worse.”

Governmental help
Bente Klarlund Pedersen, a doctor at Rigshospitalet, concurs that well-off patients are rarely overweight and that their knowledge of health issues has greatly increased over the last three decades.

The government recently introduced 14 initiatives aimed at cutting out obesity amongst children and adolescents. Around 20 percent are overweight.