Government officials in Dubai have launched an unorthodox weight loss initiative in which participants receive gold as payment for dropping pounds. This attempt to encourage healthier lifestyle choices is most likely in response to rising obesity statistics within the United Arab Emirates, the Associated Press reported.

According to government representative Hussain Lootah, anyone who signs up for the 30-day challenge starting this Friday will face no limit on payouts for the amount of weight they lose. For every kilogram each contestant loses, he or she will receive one gram of gold (~$45).

Although there is no limit to the amount of pounds that anyone involved can lose, individuals are required to lose a minimum of two kilograms, or 4.4 lbs., in order to receive their golden reward.

A recent survey conducted by Philips Healthcare tracked the prevalence of the obesity epidemic sweeping the UAE. Results showed that around 70 percent of the country's population is considered overweight or obese.

"The US gets a lot of stick about its percentage of population that's overweight, but in the Gulf, it's reaching what some would characterise as epidemic proportions, and that has a knock on effect," Peter DeBenedictis, spokesman for Philips Healthcare, told Arabian Business.

"You have diabetes, you have cardiovascular disease, already the healthcare system is strained, and if you start extrapolating these numbers out, you'll have a problem."

Published by Medicaldaily.com