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Dubai residents have a new, golden friend in the weight loss business

I learned today from my number one source of news, The Daily Show, that Dubai has begun a behavior modification weight loss incentive program that pays a gram of gold — worth about $45 at current prices — for each kilogram of weight lost in a 30-day challenge. They call the program “You Are Worth […]

I learned today from my number one source of news, The Daily Show, that Dubai has begun a behavior modification weight loss incentive program that pays a gram of gold — worth about $45 at current prices — for each kilogram of weight lost in a 30-day challenge. They call the program “You Are Worth Your Weight in Gold.” According to the CBS story I read when I looked it up to find out if this idea were true, the minimum drop is two kilograms, or 4.4 pounds, to cash in.

Oh my goodness, where to begin? The Daily Show of course said it best when they claimed that the program is entitled “Up Yours, Ethiopia.”  Hard to top that joke.

In an article in Arab News the following quote ran, “I am sure Dubai can be the role model and astonish the world by its innovative ideas and initiatives,” said Anil Dhanak, general manager of Dubai Gold & Jewelry Group. I love that a key national spokesperson on this initiative is a jeweler. Can you imagine if Tom Shane from the Shane Company weighed in on our national initiatives to slim down? Can’t you just see him up there next to Michelle Obama doing push-ups and pushing healthy foods? I am sincerely hoping that Weight Watchers will soon be planning a press conference entitled “Skipping Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”

I am not criticizing Dubai for trying. Just like the US, they have among the world’s most obese, diabetes-stricken populations. I have to believe that the combination of excess money, Western-style diets and loose-fitting robes make it easy to bulk up. Imagine how fat Americans would be if we didn’t favor clothes with waist-bands. Ok, we don’t actually have to imagine this, but it must help a little to have the visible muffin-top factor working in your favor.

The news reports on the Dubai program suggest that participants must agree not to engage in unhealthy methods of weight loss. Unfortunately this might rule out the method my father suggested, which is to submit to voluntary government beheadings. That is a bummer of a limitation, as beheading could readily help one dispose of at least 10 pounds of weight (equivalent value in gold =approximately $1000), and might not even impair the intellect of some people I know. I had thought at first this might also be an excellent way to spur organ donation in the country, but kidneys only weigh about a quarter of a pound. In the end you might have to trade too many organs to hit the qualifying weight loss minimum, thus rendering it challenging to spend your booty (from your smaller booty). Unless Dubai has, in fact, already figured out how to take it with you, as they say.

We in the US are apparently way behind Dubai on incentives, stuck as we are in using insurance premium credits, old-fashioned paper money and airline points as weight loss incentives. Given the prowess of some of our marketing experts, we could turn this into a highly personalized gold for weight loss campaign. I’m thinking custom gold rewards for target sub-populations, like gold-plated bathroom fixtures for chubby corporate CEOs and Nelly-style grillz for overweight rap stars. Someone offers me some gold-plated Manolo Blahniks and I will be on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit edition in no time.

It will be interesting to see how this 30-day challenge works out. Of course, if Dubai did this right they would offer half the gold at the 30-day weigh-in and the other half after a year of keeping off the weight, but given what a renewable resource gold is in Dubai, they can probably afford to run the program more than once.

And if the results are good, I know the U.S. is recruiting a new Surgeon General after the news that Dr. Regina Benjamin plans to retire at the end of this month. Does anyone know how to get in touch with Tom Shane, just in case? Can’t you just see him up there on the national stage saying, “Dubai: You have a friend in the weight loss business.”

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