Anti-poverty and disability campaigners recoiled in horror today at a "sinister" proposal to cut overweight benefit claimants' payments if they don't do enough exercise.
The Local Government Information Unit research group suggested that "housing and council tax benefit payments could be varied to reward or incentivise" benefit claimants who have been prescribed an exercise package.
It also suggests "new smartcard technologies" could be provided at leisure centres to monitor claimants' exercise patterns.
The slim 10-page "expert briefing" which contains no scientific research has already been endorsed by Tory-controlled Westminster Council.
Leader Philippa Roe, whose council last year slated the Jubilee Sports Centre in deprived Queen's Park for closure, said the potential improvements to the nation's health "could be significant."
But disability and welfare campaigner Sue Marsh was dumbfounded and pointed out that obesity was often a complication arising from disabilities that limit mobility.
"I don't know what to say," she told the Morning Star. "I think they've lost the plot. It's actually quite sinister."
Similar schemes had been proposed for the new personal independence payment replacing the disability living allowance, Ms Marsh said, with payments potentially frozen where claimants refused certain treatments.
"You can't force a patient to take certain treatments. That's illegal and against the Hippocratic Oath," she said.
Royal College of General Practitioners chairwoman Dr Clare Gerada said combating obesity was far more complex and in many cases poverty itself determined diet.
"The only way to tackle obesity is through major public health and political interventions such as tackling the food industry, legislation around sale of high calorie sweets and drinks and improving access to exercise."
The document comes as local authorities prepare to take control of public health projects as part of the Con-Dems dismantling of the NHS.