A Russian regional governor on Thursday proposed an inventive way to try to convince hefty local residents to lose weight - offering them prizes of tonnes of coal for slimming down.
Governor Aman Tuleyev of the country's main coal-producing Kemerovo region in Siberia told local lawmakers he had been inspired by an earlier plan in Dubai to reward people with gold if they shed weight.
‘Governor Aman Tuleyev of the country's main coal-producing Kemerovo region in Siberia said he had been inspired by a project in Dubai to reward people with gold if they shed pounds.’
"We are going to pay for losing weight -- in coal," cited by RIA Novosti news agency
"Let's not even give out grams, but tonnes, because it works out cheaper for the budget," he said of the plan.
Authorities in Dubai city in 2013 dished out some 2.8 million dirhams ($762,942) worth of gold after pledging to pay people a gram of gold for each kilogram of weight they lost.
Russia is one of the world's top coal exporters, with most coming from the Kuzbass coal mining basin in Siberia, including the Kemerovo region.
It is also the second fattest ex-Soviet country, behind Lithuania, according to the World Health Organisation data for 2014.
"Everyone should understand, the government needs healthy people," the Kemerovo governor said.
Tuleyev's press secretary Anton Gorelkin told Interfax news agency the governor was thinking of holding a reality show on a local channel with prizes in coal.
"The participants will battle with excess weight and learn about healthy lifestyles and the winner will get the prize: several tonnes of high-calorific coal," he said.
Governor Tuleyev has already tried to bolster his battle with the bulge by giving out 5,000 free bicycles and 5,000 Nordic walking poles to children this year.
The governor, however, himself appears to enjoy hearty food -- with a picture on his website showing him making pelmeny, traditional Siberian dumplings filled with meat.