Making coal the goal: Russian official’s unusual weight-loss plan

Governor of the Kemerovo Region Aman Tuleyev (R) © Sputnik
The head of Kemerovo, a major Russian coal-mining region, has promised to introduce a program in which overweight citizens would receive coal for every kilo of weight lost.

Within the framework of our program to fight obesity we would pay people for weight loss, just like they do in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). There, people get rewarded in gold for getting slimmer. We will also pay...not in gold coins, but in coal. We will offer tons of coal,” Governor Aman Tuleyev said on Thursday, as he was presenting the region’s budget message for 2016.

Tuleyev also reported on the authorities’ earlier efforts in the field of health and fitness, and said that in 2015 Kemerovo residents have received 5,000 bicycles and 5,000 sets of Nordic walking poles.

The UAE introduced the “Weight in Gold” campaign in 2013, offering 1 gram of 24-carat gold for every kilogram of excess weight shed by registered participants. The popularity of the plan soared and in 2014 the authorities handed over 2.8 million dirhams, or US$762,340, in gold. In 2015 the emirate’s officials have offered a reward in gold to those who can make their children lose weight - this program has also proved popular, albeit causing concern among doctors.