Last year, Dubai offered its adult residents an incentive to lose weight: The government would match the amount of weight they lost with gold, exchanging one gram of gold for every kilogram of weight lost. Now, the country is implementing a similar program for children.
"Your Child in Gold" doubles the reward, with two grams of gold offered to families for every kilogram of weight lost by in children aged two to 14. For reference, one gram of gold is worth $41.92, Quartz notes, and one kilogram is 2.2 pounds. There are, of course, stipulations: Only two children per family can participate, and children must each lose at least two kilograms of weight to be eligible. Participants visit official weigh-in sites to track their progress, and the program will run until Sept. 15.
Last year's adult program resulted in 2.8 million dirhams, or $762,340, in payouts, so the incentive may help parents encourage healthy habits in their children. A 2012 survey in the BMC Public Health journal found that the United Arab Emirates is the world's sixth most obese nation, so the incentive may help its citizens develop healthier lifestyles. (For reference, the U.S. was the world's most obese nation, according to the survey.) According to a report from the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, 33.7 percent of adults in the UAE are obese.
When the program launched on July 15, roughly 15 percent of the 9,200 who enrolled did so as families. More than 25,000 people have enrolled in this year's program, while last year's enrollment was roughly 9,000.
Some nutrition experts have expressed concern with the program, however. "If a child is dramatically overweight, then two [kilograms] over the course of a month is fine," Dr. Fawad Khan, a consultant in family medicine at Al Noor Hospital, told The National. "But if the child is under four and they're losing that much weight, that might pose some health concerns."