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We have heard of corporations incentivizing employees to get healthier by providing them with gym memberships or even gift cards, but gold from local government officials? That has to be a first! Turns out it is exactly what the flashy city of Dubaiin the United Arab Emirates did recently, to try get its residents to adopt a healthier lifestyle.
Concerned about the growing obesity of their population, in July 2013, municipality officials threw the City's residents a five-week challenge. Called 'Your Weight In Gold', it promised to award them the precious metal if they managed to shed any pounds during the specified period.
To encourage entrants to lose as much as possible, they offered tiered incentives. Weight loss between 2 - 5 kilos (4.4 -11 pounds) would be rewarded with 2 grams, 5 - 10 kilos with 4 grams and anything over ten, a generous 3 grams of gold, for every kilo lost.
Just as in the television show, entrants had to appear for an initial weigh in at any one of the five designated centers on or after July 19th. While the municipality did not offer the same rigorous trainers, they did set up consulting centers where the contestants could get advice on diet and exercise.
There was initially some skepticism whether this grandiose plan would work - After all, most of Dubai's residents are already independently wealthy and more importantly the lure of fast food was too tempting to avoid. But those doubts were dismissed on the first day, when over 10,000 people lined up to weigh in!
What was even more encouraging was that when the results were announced at the end of August, 2,648 entrants had met the challenge. Of these, 575 residents had lost at least two kilos (kg), while 2,019 had lost between 2-10 kg. What was even more stunning is that 29 people had managed to shed over 15kg, while 5 had lost over 20kg! The total damage to the municipality? 16.82 kilograms of gold worth 2.8 million dirhams ($809,874 USD), which was awarded to the lean winners on November 8th, 2013.
As for the biggest loser? That coveted title went to Syrian born architect, Ahmad Ebrahim-al-Sheikh. The 27-year-old took home 63 grams or about $2,800 USD worth of gold for losing a whopping 27.67 kilos! His secret? A healthy diet and an hour and 45 minutes of exercise, which included climbing the 16 flights of stairs to his apartment every day! The best part is that Ahmad plans to continue his healthy lifestyle - with or without gold!
Resources: news.com.au, thenational.ae,